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Kiasma art museum to re-open with costly renovation still in progress

The price tag for repairs at the contemporary art museum remains unclear. Kiasma re-opens as the nearby Ateneum closes.

Kiasma huputettuna kattoremontin vuoksi.
This winter, it has not been possible to heat the tent that covers Kiasma, so that has slowed renovations. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle
Yle News

Helsinki's Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art re-opens in early April with the ARS22 exhibition, although exterior renovation work will continue into next summer.

ARS22 is the 10th instalment in an irregular series of major international contemporary art exhibitions that dates back to 1961.

Kiasma has been closed since November 2020, initially due to the pandemic and then because of a renovation that began more than a year ago. Work on its iconic curved roof will continue until at least July.

"The scaffolding over the entrance will be dismantled, but the rebuilding of the sheet metal roof will continue for several more months," says Selja Flink, Construction Manager at Senate Properties, which manages most state-owned real estate.

The curved shape of Kiasma's sheet metal roof is very demanding, she said.

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Kiasma's curved roof is a demanding structure that will require work until at least July. Image: Mikko Koski/

"The building was originally poorly built and when we opened up the roof, we found all sorts of problems including water damage and insufficient insulation," she told Yle.

Designed by American architect Steven Holl, the museum opened in 1998.

This cold, snowy winter has also brought its own challenges. It was not possible to heat the huge plastic tent that covers the whole of Kiasma during repairs, so a smaller, movable tent was built inside it that could be heated for the metalworkers.

Kiasma's renovation budget has already been raised twice, from an initial 19.5 million euros to 28.4 million. The final price tag remains unclear.

"The contract also expanded, because, for example, it was decided to replace all the windows after the initial investment decision. The renovation work inside the museum also expanded to include technical infrastructure, for example," explained Flink.

Kiasma re-opens on April 8 with the ARS22 exhibition.

Ateneum also facing renovations

The Ateneum Art Museum, which like Kiasma is part of the Finnish National Gallery, will close its doors after next week for an overhaul of its ventilation system. Its public toilets will also be renovated.

The country's most popular museum is scheduled to reopen next January, although the exact date is not yet known.

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Kuva Ateneumista, kuvassa jonottavia ihmisiä.
The Ateneum dates back to 1888. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

"When renovating a 130-year-old building, you have to be prepared for anything," said the museum's communications director, Johanna Eiramo.

The last major renovation of the Ateneum was in the 1980s, when it was closed for several years. In 2015, the third floor was closed when the outer roof and other areas were repaired.

"Good ventilation has become even more important during the pandemic. And, of course, the right level of humidity is important to preserve the works of art," Eiramo said.

Between now and its final day, Sunday 27 March, the Ateneum has extended its opening hours until 8 pm. In addition, the Ateneum will be open next Friday from 5 to 10 pm with free admission for students and anyone under 25. The museum is closed on Monday.

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