On January 18, 2011, at a news conference held at the City Hall of Helsinki, Mayor Jussi Pajunen announced that the city has commissioned the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
to conduct a study exploring the possibility of developing a Guggenheim Museum in Finland. Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum Director Richard Armstrong joined the mayor and Deputy Mayor Tuula Haatainen for the announcement.
The concept and development study will explore topics including the possible mission and structure of an innovative, multidisciplinary museum of visual culture in Finland, the form that its exhibition and education programs might take, its prospective relationship with Helsinkis existing visual-art institutions, the museums potential economic impact, and the scope of the Guggenheim Foundations involvement in its operation. The study is expected to conclude at the end of 2011, at which time any initial recommendations about a new Guggenheim Museum would be subject to approval by both the City Council of Helsinki and the Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Foundation. Under its current agreement with the Foundation, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao must also approve any agreement under which the Guggenheim would manage or operate the new museum.
Helsinki is the largest city in Finland and the nations administrative, economic, scientific, and cultural center. Known internationally for its important tradition of architecture and design and outstanding musical culture, Finland also has an active visual-art scene. The Helsinki metropolitan area has some seventy art galleries and a strong group of museums, which include the Helsinki Art Museum; the institutions of the Finnish National Gallery (including the Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum); and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art.
Mayor Pajunen stated, As the capital of our country and home to its greatest concentration of art museums, Helsinki has a special responsibility to keep improving Finlands cultural infrastructure. It is widely recognized that cultural destinations can help drive economic growth for a country, provided they are created within an intelligent overall plan for development. We have such a planand the Guggenheim, as a truly global institution, is the ideal institution to collaborate with us in studying how to realize our goals. This is a collaboration that can help Helsinki and Finland prosper in an increasingly interconnected and competitive world.
The principal managers of the study team will be Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Deputy Director and Chief Officer for Global Strategies of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Mr. Vidarte, who is also Director General of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, was intimately involved in the development of that institution and brings extensive experience to the project.