Helsinki considers plan C to build Guggenheim

Private funding increased as US-based foundation cuts its fee by $10m

A new plan to build a €130m Helsinki Guggenheim on the Finnish capital's waterfront increases the level of private funding and sees the US-based foundation cut its license fee by $10m to $20m payable over 20 years. This new plan, the third proposal since 2012, was announced today (3 November). It would mean the City of Helsinki provides €80m of the construction cost and underwrites a €35m loan to a company set up jointly with the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation. The plan C follows the Finnish government’s decision in September not to support the project and the city of Helsinki narrowly voting against an earlier proposal in 2013.

If the City Board of Helsinki backs the new plan, construction could begin in 2019 on the museum designed by the French-Japanese architecture studio Moreau Kusunoki, which won an international competition last year. The museum would include more public space, a gallery for “free art” and work closely with other Helsinki institutions under the revised proposal.

Ari Wiseman, the deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, says: "I did not expect the project to take so many twists and turns." He has been involved in the project since 2011 when the New York-based foundation was first invited by the mayor of Helsinki to produce a feasibility study. Wiseman stresses that the foundation and its Finnish partners remain committed to the project and says that they are optimistic that the new plan will be backed by Helsinki's politicians. "It took 16 years to get the Guggenheim built in New York. We are accustomed to things taking a little longer," he says.

The Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation has pledged €15m for the building’s construction, will finance the loan and aims to raise the funds needed to cover the gallery’s running costs. A spokeswoman for the Guggenheim Foundation confirms that private donors have pledged the $20m licensing fee.

UPDATE: this story has been updated to include Ari Wiseman's comments.