Will Helsinki ever get a Guggenheim?

Doubts grow over crucial government funding as the once-friendly Finnish political climate deteriorates

One year after an architect was chosen and the final design announced, the Guggenheim Helsinki remains in limbo. The project has become “a political hot potato”, says Helsinki’s deputy mayor Ritva Viljanen. Individuals and companies have pledged €28m, she says, but the government has not determined how much, if anything, it will contribute.

The chairman of the board of the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, Ari Lahti, will present municipal authorities and the public with a plan to fund the museum’s €130m construction and additional licensing fee this summer. Despite Finland’s economic difficulties, “it is an investment that should pay off”, he says.

Others believe that the project will be dropped. “The political climate is filled with pessimism, growing unemployment figures and immigration,” says Kaarin Taipale, a local politician. “No one talks about the Guggenheim these days.”

The French-Japanese architecture firm Moreau Kusunoki won the international competition to design the museum on Helsinki’s waterfront last June. A Guggenheim spokeswoman says that the project is still under discussion and no timeline has been finalised.

With reporting by Anny Shaw