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From Stalled Guggenheim Helsinki to the Albright-Knox: Janne Sirén Named to Direct in Buffalo

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Janne Sirén, fronting Clyfford Still’s “October 1950″ at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where he will assume the directorship later this year
Photograph by Tom Loonan

First off, he shortened his name.

When he was helping to formulate and promote plans for the Guggenheim Helsinki, for which he was thought to be a likely choice for director, we knew him (scroll down) as Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, director of the Helsinki Art Museum. Even Ari Wiseman, the Guggenheim’s deputy director, had difficulty pronouncing his name.

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On the streets of Helsinki: Janne Sirén, left; Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong, center; Ari Wiseman, right. (Only Sirén convincingly looks like he might actually throw that snowball.)

With the Guggenheim’s northern lights now dimmed, the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo (whose snowy climate rivals Finland’s), today announced that Janne Sirén, as he is now known, will become its new director, beginning this spring or summer. He succeeds long-time director Louis Grachos, who, strangely, was unmentioned in today’s press release. Also unmentioned was Sirén’s Guggenheim connection, although the release did appear to allude to it:

Under the direction of Dr. Sirén, the Helsinki Art Museum has worked with partners around the globe, including some of the world’s largest art institutions.

The America-educated director was a prime mover in crafting the 186-page feasibility study for the Guggenheim’s hoped-for Scandinavian satellite. (My views on that are here.)

Karen Lee Spaulding
continues as interim director at the Albright-Knox until Sirén (who was in Buffalo for the announcement) takes the helm. He praised “the Albright-Knox’s legacy of visionary collection development, its artist-centric approach and ability to institutionally reinvent itself over time”…not to mention its penchant for reinventing its collection.

Colin Dabkowski‘s interview of Sirén in today’s Buffalo News is here.

an ArtsJournal blog