The city of Helsinki has invited the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to consider opening a museum in the Finnish capital in an effort to boost cultural tourism to the Nordic country.
The New York-based Foundation will carry out a development study this year, according to a statement published by the city of Helsinki today. If the city’s bid is successful, a Guggenheim museum may open as early as 2017, said Mayor Jussi Pajunen, at a press briefing.
“Finland is unquestionably poised for a greater role within the world’s cultural scene,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Foundation and Museum.
The Guggenheim Bilbao museum in Spain, designed by Frank Gehry, has attracted more than 10 million visitors since it was opened in 1997. Its Director General, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, will be a co-manager of the Helsinki study team, and the Bilbao museum has the right of approval for any new museum project in Helsinki. Ari Wiseman, deputy director of the Guggenheim Foundation, is the other co-manager.
Helsinki is competing with other medium-sized cities around Europe for tourism and investment in creative, fast-growth businesses such as software and filmmaking. The city of 1.3 million people in its greater metropolitan area is redeveloping former port areas into dense, mixed-use communities including cultural amenities.
The Finnish capital has been named the world’s fifth most livable city for the last three years by Monocle Magazine, which cited transit connections, free education and wireless Internet facilities.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum began as a private collection of modern paintings in New York City and moved to a purpose-built Frank Lloyd Wright building on New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1959. The Guggenheim Foundation also operates museums in Venice, Berlin and Bilbao.
An Abu Dhabi museum also designed by Gehry is scheduled to open in 2013.