Helsinki expects a new bid for a Guggenheim museum
Guggenheim Foundation director Richard Armstrong arrives for a press conference on January 18, 2011 in Helsinki. Helsinki is waiting to receive a second proposal for a Guggenheim museum in the Finnish capital, a city official said Tuesday, after rejecting the first offer mainly due to its high cost.
Plans for a Finnish Guggenheim franchise costing around 140 million euros ($186 million) were turned down by the Helsinki city council in a close vote in May last year, despite having the backing of centre-right mayor Jussi Pajunen.
But executives of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation "have met with several Finnish representatives," deputy mayor Ritva Viljanen told AFP.
After talks with the foundation's director Richard Armstrong in New York, Viljanen said Guggenheim was trying to understand how to improve the project.
"The proposal in 2012 would have been too expensive for the city," she said.
A new proposal is expected to be submitted by September.
The Guggenheim Foundation was not immediately available for comment.
Helsinki has said the foundation needs to secure more funding from the Finnish state and from private investors in Finland and elsewhere.
A Guggenheim delegation has already met with three government ministers, according to Finnish media.
"It's great that an international cultural institution like the Guggenheim is interested in Finland," Defence Minister Carl Haglund told public broadcaster YLE on Monday.
However, opposition to a Guggenheim franchise in Finland has been especially strong among The Greens, the Social Democratic Party, the Left Alliance and the populist Finns Party.
A group of about 100 Finnish artists has previously proposed an alternative project, dubbed Checkpoint Helsinki.
The group claims that the creation of a Guggenheim Museum was motivated more by tourism than the development of contemporary art in Finland.
"It is strange that supporters of the Guggenheim Museum do not understand the word 'no'," the daily Kaleva wrote in an editorial on Saturday.
Mayor Pajunen said a Guggenheim museum would be a "positive step" for Helsinki, arguing it would "greatly increase tourist interest and strengthen Helsinki as a cultural city."
Guggenheim's world-famous network includes museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin and Venice, and another under construction in Abu Dhabi.