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Thursday December 1, 2016
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File picture of Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim of Bilbao. Finland today buried a plan to build a Guggenheim museum over its price tag. — AFP picFile picture of Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim of Bilbao. Finland today buried a plan to build a Guggenheim museum over its price tag. — AFP picHELSINKI, Dec 1 — Helsinki’s city council buried today a contested plan to build a museum bearing the name of the US-based Guggenheim Foundation, primarily due to the price tag.

Opponents of the museum said one of the Finnish capital’s best locations facing the presidential palace in the port would have been handed over to the “McDonald’s of art”, referring to the Guggenheim chain of museums in cities including New York, Bilbao and Venice.

But supporters of the project argued the planned site was being used as a parking lot, and insisted the museum could have led to a tourism boom.

After a marathon debate that lasted for several hours until the early hours of today, 53 of the council’s delegates voted against the museum and 32 in favour.

Efforts to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki began back in 2011, but the project has been plagued by funding problems and political opposition.

In 2015, a French studio, Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, won an international design competition organised to give form to the project, with a concept grouping sombre rectangular pavilions and a tower resembling a lighthouse.

The competition’s jury found the design “deeply respectful of the site” but during the city council meeting some delegates called it a “bunker”.

Most opponents were concerned about the museum’s price tag, estimated at €130 million (RM617 million), of which the city of Helsinki would have paid €80 million, while also having to secure a loan of a further €35 million. 

The US-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation would have charged some €18.4 million over 20 years for lending its famous brand to the museum. — AFP

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