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The City of Helsinki’s review proposes that Helsinki Art Museum HAM be organised as a foundation and located in the Suvilahti gasholders

27.8.2020 10:17

Photo: Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

The purpose of the City of Helsinki’s review was to clarify the roles that the Art Museum’s exhibition operations, Helsinki Biennale, and public art have in Helsinki’s art and culture field, as well as in relation to the international field. It is proposed in the review that HAM be organised as a foundation, it be located in the Suvilahti gasholders, and its role be reinforced around the extensive art collection of Helsinki. Next, the matter will be processed in the City’s management group and with the Museum’s staff.

The foundation model selected as the organisation model for the Art Museum 
In the review published today, it is proposed that Helsinki Art Museum HAM be organised as a foundation, as this would better allow for long-term planning of the Museum’s finances and operations for several years, as well as for increasing self-financing. A significant portion of the Metropolitan Area’s museums are organised as foundations, with positive experiences. The foundation model is an established organisation model within Helsinki Group. The foundation model is estimated to allow for a substantial increase in self-financing.

Placing the Art Museum in Suvilahti would support urban development outside the inner city
According to the review, Suvilahti as an area would be very suitable for the Art Museum’s operations. Placing the Museum in a developing area would also support urban development by the sea. The gasholders would be suitable for Helsinki Art Museum, with certain technical reservations. The cultural and historical values could easily be taken into consideration. The proposal also brings up the opportunity of adding an exhibition space related to partnership activities into the plans.

As a part of the review, the Urban Environment Division of Helsinki commissioned two alternative framework plans with preliminary cost estimates:

1) HAM’s exhibition operations in the brick building and support facilities in the steel building. In this case, the architecture of the gasholder buildings would remain largely unchanged.​

2) The interior of the brick building would remain as open as possible, as opening the building allows for an impressive view.​ HAM’s exhibition facilities would be located in both buildings. The focus of new construction would be in the steel building. The main entrance would be between the buildings.​

In the review, a design competition is recommended, with the aim of finding the best solution for combining the unique historical buildings and art museum operations.

HAM’s operations will become clearer: its role in expanding, maintaining and showcasing Helsinki’s art collection would be strengthened 
HAM is a part of the Culture and Leisure Division of the City of Helsinki, and it is one of the largest art museums in both Finland and the Nordic region. HAM’s operations are based on the art collection – currently of 10,000 pieces – of Helsinki. The review concludes that HAM’s operations would focus more intensely on expanding, maintaining and showcasing the art collection of Helsinki – including public art. HAM’s role would be to identify and strengthen the specialities of the local art scene, and to showcase them. The Art Museum would act as a convener in both local and global discussion environments and increase diversity by including operators from outside the Art Museum.

The review has been directed by a steering group led by Executive Director of the Culture and Leisure Division Tommi Laitio. HAM’s Chief Curator Elina Leskelä has acted as the Project Manager for the review.