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After five-hour talks, councillors vote 53-32 to kill off €150m addition to Guggenheim museums in Venice and Bilbao
Venice and Bilbao will remain the only Guggenheim museums in Europe for the foreseeable future after Helsinki finally buried a controversial plan for a striking new shrine to modern and contemporary art on the city’s waterfront.
After a stormy five-hour meeting lasting into the early hours of Thursday morning, city councillors voted by 53 to 32 to kill off the project, which had been fiercely contested in Finland since it was floated in 2011.
Helsinki’s deputy mayor, Ritva Viljanen, who had supported the plans for a €150m (£126m) museum on a prime dockside site currently in use as a car park, said the project’s proponents would have to accept the decision.
“Democracy has spoken, and in no uncertain manner; there can be no ifs or buts,” Viljanen told YLE, the state broadcaster. She said she was sorry feelings about the project had run so high, with some backers receiving threats of violence.
Ari Lahti, chairman of the Guggenheim Helsinki Support Foundation which spent two years gathering private sponsorship for the scheme, told the broadcaster the project had fallen victim to emotion, not reason.
“This was an important project and I continue to believe the museum would have benefited Finland and Helsinki,” he said. “But yes, I am afraid that now the whole proposal has pretty much collapsed.”
The council rejected revised plans by the Paris architects Moreau Kusunoki, whose design was chosen from among 1,700 entrants to an international competition last year. Judges described it as a “fragmented, non-hierarchical, horizontal campus of linked pavilions where art and society can meet and intermingle”. […]