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From Glocal to Local: Does “Checkpoint Helsinki” Supplant Guggenheim Helsinki?

Checkpoint Helsinki meeting

A Checkpoint Helsinki meeting (photo from its Facebook page)

With the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki stalled, if not moribund (and with one of its prime movers, Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, director of the Helsinki Art Museum, about to shuffle to Buffalo), it now appears that the elaborate plans (embodied in the Guggenheim’s $2-million, 186-page feasibility study) to boost the Finnish capital’s cultural profile through the intervention of outsiders may have had unintended but very promising consequences.

Clemens Bomsdorf reports in the Art Newspaper:

The creation of an artist-led museum called Checkpoint Helsinki [my link, not Bomsdorf’s] is looking likely following the city board’s rejection of the Guggenheim Helsinki scheme last year.

The city has signaled that it is willing to financially support such an institution, which would provide a space for artists to produce and exhibit their work. A spokesman for the city says it has earmarked a budget for 2013 that could be used for the project, although no final decision has been made.

As I said in my detailed critique of the Guggenheim’s latest in a series of dead-end feasibility studies for foreign satellites:

To me, the biggest question surrounding this project is the most basic: Why would a sophisticated, culturally rich city like Helsinki feel the need for Americans to descend and condescend to oversee a new cultural institution that we think they need? Projects like this should percolate from the ground up.

That’s exactly what now appears to be happening through this new artist-led initiative.

But wait! Is the Guggenheim a player in this proposed new municipally funded museum? And if not, does the Guggenheim Helsinki still have a pulse?

Here’s what Guggenheim spokesperson Eleanor Goldhar told me:

We are absolutely not involved in the proposed artist-centric museum in Helsinki. [There are] no new updates on Guggenheim Helsinki.

an ArtsJournal blog