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One-vote margin sees Guggenheim Helsinki inch forward

Helsinki city board members voted by a narrow margin of 8 - 7 to move ahead with a new proposal to erect a Guggenheim museum at the city’s South Harbour. Four years ago a similar vote stopped the project in its tracks.

Visualisointi GH-04380895 -rakennuksesta.
An architect's impression of the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki. Image: Moreau Kusunoki Architect / Guggenheim Helsinki

Hopes of constructing a Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki were revived on Monday with city board members voting by the narrowest of margins -- 8 – 7 – to greenlight a new proposal to move ahead with the controversial project.

The museum proposal received broad political support from the National Coalition Party, the Greens, the Swedish Peoples’ Party and the Centre.

Board members who rejected the motion to move forward with the museum project represented the Social Democratic Party, the Left Alliance and the Finns Party, as well as one Green member.

In spite of Monday’s board endorsement of the plan, the city council will have the final say on the project. The 85-member council will convene to decide on the fate of the venture on November 30.

Previous vote derailed project

Last autumn the government announced that it would not bankroll the project. The cost of constructing the Guggenheim has been estimated at some 130 million euros.

According to a revised proposal tabled a few weeks ago, the city of Helsinki would cover 80 million euros of the cost, with the Guggenheim Helsinki foundation picking up the remaining 50 million. 

The Guggenheim Helsinki foundation has so far raised 15 million euros donated by two other domestic financiers – the remaining 35 million will come from a bank loan backed by the city of Helsinki.

Four years ago another vote on establishing an iconic Guggenheim museum in Helsinki was also narrowly voted down by 8 – 7, with the Greens casting the deciding vote.

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