perjantai 18. heinäkuuta 2014

Julkaistua: Helsinki Art Museum Scene is on the Run

Julkaistu viroksi Sirp-lehdessä 28/2014 18.7.2014 Veronika Valkin kääntämänä  
Published in Sirp 28/2014 in Estonian.
Heikki Kastemaa
Helsinki Art Museum Scene is on the Run
”It meanders with endless jetties. It is bent, convex, hollow and oval, but not for a moment at ease. It is a marvel of architecture.” Mr. Matti Apunen, a former film critic, cultural editor and director of Finnish policy and pro-market think tank EVA, looked at the Guggenheim art museum in Bilbao, Spain. This was the moment, as he confessed in Helsingin Sanomat in October 2011, he became a believer. Moreover, this was the moment when Mr. Apunen was converted as a believer in the designer of Bilbao museum,  Frank Gehry, the global Canadian American starchitect, who is now 85 years old.
These words were almost a prophecy; they epitomize the process of discussion of Guggenheim Helsinki that followed. Like Mr. Apunen, the Guggenheim proponents in Helsinki paid attention only to the outer shell of art museum. Art museum for them is a piece of architecture and that’s it. It has been truckloads of dispute on attendance, tons on finance, abundant about branding of the Helsinki city and tourism. Art, design and architecture shall be shown, but so far no signs of any collection. It was difficult to see an art museum proper in the debate over Guggenheim Helsinki.
Proposals and architectural competition
As many others, the city of Helsinki was inspired by the success of Bilbao Guggenheim and contacted the New York based foundation in 2010. The first stage produced a Concept and Development Study for Guggenheim Helsinki, costing the city and two major Finnish cultural foundations 1,2 million Euro. Helsinki city turned down the proposal in May 2012 on grounds of cost that would have been 140million Euros. After that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation appointed the Miltton Group, a communications and lobbying company as its communications partner in Finland. A new proposal, which omitted the Helsinki city art museum from the plan, was unveiled in September 2013. The city decided to reserve a waterfront site from Helsinki South Harbour for architectural competition.
In June 4th, the Guggenheim Foundation announced an open, international two stage architectural competition for Guggenheim Helsinki art museum. Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC), a London-based specialist in architectural competitions, consulting with stakeholders at the Guggenheim Foundation, the City of Helsinki, the State of Finland, and the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA), is organizing the competition. They appointed an 11-member jury of the competition, chaired by Mark Wigley from Columbia University.
First stage is an open call for participation based on a design submission, which will be evaluated on five key criteria: cityscape, architecture, usability, sustainability, and feasibility. These proposals have to be submitted by September 10th. From these entries the jury will select six proposals to stage two of the competition in fall 2014, to be given detailed material and invited to a briefing day in Helsinki. They will be asked to expand their stage one design and produce a master plan model by March 2015.
After submission and assessment of the stage two entries, the winner of the competition is to be announced in June 2015. The winner will be awarded € 100,000 and the five runner-ups will each receive € 55,000. The competition finance does not include so-called public money, but is covered by cultural foundations, sponsors and private individuals.
Finnish architects have criticized the competition of its rushed schedule. Counter arguments say that the first stage requirements are rather easy. Considering architects who are usually keen on designing cultural institutions, the competition is expected to produce hundreds of proposals. A record in the field was the competition held in 2011 for Serlachius Gösta art museum annex in Mänttä, Central Finland, which gathered 579 proposals.
The logistics of the proposed site has been criticized. The program includes only staff and VIP-visitors parking place, so the more than half million expected annual visitors would have to use public transportation to the museum.
Of course the purpose of the competition is clear, to lure decision makers and financiers to make a decision to build a Guggenheim Helsinki museum. But still, the main counter argument remains; Helsinki is not a large world-class metropolis, where monetary resources are seemingly endless.
Architecture critic Jonathan Glancey echoed the sentiments of many, when he wrote in TheTelegraph recently: ”Finns are rightly proud of the role art has played in establishing their country as distinct and special. To see Helsinki become a kind of dumping ground for ’global brands’ subject to the fickle favours of stopover international tourism and, now, on modest means, to fund an American art foundation with an unsure record of success overseas is, indeed, somewhat bizarre.”
On the run
The biggest privately funded art museum in Finland; Amos Anderson art museum plans to be placed perhaps even closer to the Helsinki commercial centre than the Guggenheim. Located diagonally with Kiasma, it will occupy partly the functionalist “Class Palace” and construct underground exhibition spaces behind it.
Amos plans to cater 100 000 visitors annually, which is a big difference compared with the Guggenheim over-estimated annual attendance of 550 000 visitors. The main contender of the Guggenheim would be the contemporary art museum Kiasma, which attracts 150 000 – 200 000 visitors, including especially large portion of youth and foreign travellers.
Guggenheim or no Guggenheim, Helsinki art museum scene is on the run. The run will start with stops, however. Both Kiasma and Helsinki Art museums will be closed temporarily due to renovation. Kiasma is closing in September for six months. Designed by American architect Steven Holl, the famous “sausage” will be updated with new technique and renovation works.
And on the top floor of the film and entertainment centre “Tennis Palace”, Helsinki Art Museum will close in September, too. Earlier the museum lost an annex in Meilahti due to mold damage. This spring the museum decided to discontinue providing its long time gallery space, designed by the famous architect Aarno Ruusuvuori in Kluuvi, in order to include it in the refurbished and renewed space in Tennispalatsi. When opening in September 2015, the museum doubles its exhibition space.
Some built and planned Scandinavian art museums in size
total gross area m2
of which exhibition space
Moderna Museet Stockholm (1998)
15 000
5 000
Kiasma, Helsinki (1998)
12 000
9 100
Kumu, Tallinn (2006)
24 000
5 000
Emma, Espoo (2006)
15 000 (WeeGee exhibition centre)
5 000
Gösta annex, Mänttä (2014)
5 700
1 100
Helsinki Art Museum, Tennis Palace (2015)
5 628
2 800
Amos Anderson, Helsinki (planned 2017)
6 000
2 500
Guggenheim Helsinki (planned)
12 100
3 920
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