For a few months spanning from 2014 to last year, the Guggenheim Helsinki museum competition was the hottest topic in architectural media. Even as Moreau Kusunoki's more contextually-driven design was selected as the competition winner, debate raged on over whether the search by yet another city for an iconic building to call their own was ultimately good or bad for architecture as a whole. But now, funding for the project has been rejected by the Finnish government, putting the museum in danger of not being built at all.
The proposed museum, which would be located along the Helsinki waterfront, was estimated to cost between 120-140 million euro ($134-$156 million) to construct, 40 million euro of which was expected to be covered by Finnish taxpayers, according to the plan outlined by the Guggenheim Foundation.
However in the past few years, the political climate of Finland has shifted as a result of a decade-long economic downturn, giving rise to the conservative Finns Party. Now with the second largest number of seats in the Finnish Parliament, the party was able to reject funding for the project from going through.
Finns Party chairperson Timo Soini has gone as far as declaring that the project will not be brought up in budget sessions again, equating efforts to raise government support to “pouring water on cold sauna rocks.”
"This is the end of the matter, we have ruled out state funding (for Guggenheim) once and for all, for this government," said Sampo Terho, the parliamentary head of the Finns party, speaking to Reuters. "We are not opposed to the project as such, we just don't think it is something that the state should participate in."
The Guggenheim Foundation has said they will continue in talks with the more progressive Centre and National Coalition Parties in efforts to find alternatives for the funding, as the museum is considered to be too costly to be financed by the city and private donors alone.
For now, the foundation is holding out hope, but with the reservation of the waterfront property expiring at the end of the year, action must be taken soon to prevent the project from being scrapped altogether.
Said Guggenheim deputy director Ari Wiseman, "We understand that it takes time. That said, we are disappointed that the project was not included in the budget.”