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Helsinki City Council Kills Plan for Costly Guggenheim Satellite

Helsinki will not be home to another Guggenheim outpost, Finnish lawmakers decided on Wednesday night, voting 53 to 32 reject the controversial plans for a new museum.

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Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, “Art in the City” (© Moreau Kusunoki Architectes / Guggenheim)

Helsinki will not be home to another Guggenheim outpost, Finnish lawmakers decided on Wednesday night, voting 53 to 32 reject the controversial plans for a new museum. The museum, expected to cost $138 million, has received strong backlash from many taxpayers angered by the fact that the city would have had to foot much of the construction costs — a number they claim was as high as $106 million. It would have represented the Solomon R. Guggenheim’s fourth satellite museum, with others in Bilbao, Venice, and a site in Abu Dhabi rockily underway.

According to the New York Times, council members spent over five hours on Wednesday debating the project, which would have greatly boosted tourism and, according to the Guggenheim, created 400 jobs.

“The main objections to the project presented by Council members included the project’s excessive cost for the Finnish taxpayer; inadequate private funding; and the proposed site, which was considered too valuable for the project,” the Helsinki Council said in a statement.

This week’s vote very likely puts to rest a long fight between the Foundation and opposing Helsinki residents over the plans, first introduced in 2011. Although Helsinki officials vetoed funding for it in 2012, the project was revived, after its revision, in 2013 — and still continued to face criticism. Government members attempted to kill it for good this September, but the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation and the City of Helsinki drew up yet another revised plan earlier last month.

This zombie, however, seems to be dead: as the Foundation wrote in a statement, “We are disappointed that the Helsinki City Council has decided not to allocate funds for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki museum, in effect bringing this project to a close … We thank the City Council for having given its full and fair consideration to this project.”

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