State of the Art

Culture is firing on all cylinders in Helsinki. The pocket-sized metropolis just added two world-class cultural attractions: the new art museum Amos Rex and center library Oodi. Both heavyhitters offer ample proof that the Finnish capital is more than a match to its Scandinavian counterparts in the culture department.

Amos Rex’s principle architect Aimo Jaaksi says that the Nordic cities have all been busy building a formidable cultural profile of late – and that Helsinki didn’t exactly dominate, being locked into an endless debate whether to build a new Guggenheim or not. Now, with the new downtown dynamic duo, it’s safe to say that Helsinki is back in the race.

Jaaksi also remarked that as there are more cultural destinations, the entire ecosystem becomes that much stronger. This means, for example, that international media starts to cover the Helsinki cultural scene as a matter of routine, and not as an eccentric anomaly. Also, as the citizens themselves have flocked to these places in record-numbers, it seems clear that “the cultural wave” is not a niché nuance.

Still, there may be more to come. A new report just came out on the possibility of establishing a world-class Museum of Architecture and Design in Helsinki. The report was produced in collaboration by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki and it explores the merger of the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum and the construction of a new museum building in Helsinki.

The report was completed utilizing extensive interviews with stakeholders and an international comparison. The report finds that Finland “deserves” a Museum of Architecture and Design that reflects the international significance of its architecture and design. Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (see the interview on pages 10–15) very much seconds this motion.

Why is the new “super design museum” such a must? – Well, the report argues Finland has the opportunity to become profiled around the world as a trendsetter for a totally new type of Museum of Architecture and Design. It is possible to build a museum concept, based on the strengths of the current museums, that is highly ambitious by international standards, report states.

However, the creation of the new museum will require fastpaced practical measures and decisions. The museums, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki should work in close collaboration to make this dream a reality.

And that Guggengeim? – We’ll just have to see.

Sami J. Anteroinen

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