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Plans underway for world-class museum of architecture and design in Helsinki

Ministry of Education and Culture
28.3.2019 11.03
Press release

The concept plan for Helsinki’s envisaged new museum of architecture and design has been completed. The plan that had been ordered by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki was released Thursday 28 March.

According to the plan, the world’s best museum of architecture and design will be built in Helsinki. By displaying its collections and telling its stories, the museum will show how the choices of architects and designers have moulded the world that we share. The museum will bring people together and simultaneously it will bring architecture and design into the societal discourse as a means to solve the great problems of the future. The museum aims a sparking the notion to perceive the world from the architect’s point of view: you can do everything differently, better.

The museum’s objective is to be user oriented, actively open and ambitiously experimental. The heart of the museum will be made up of a core exhibition that combines architecture and design, the most important and the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. Design will not be put on display only, but you will also be able to try it as it is was originally created: something to hold, grasp and touch.  Thanks to new technology, you will also be able to experience planning that still does not exist and test futuristic solutions virtually. The museum will be a platform, a partner and a node for cooperation between players, trades and users within the sphere of architecture and design.

The concept planning was initiated in the autumn of 2018 by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki together with the foundations for the Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.  The plan was drafted by CEO Tuomas Auvinen, senior resarcher Outi Kuittinen and museum expert Ulla Teräs. A steering group that consisted of representatives of the government, the municipality and the museums assisted with the concept planning. The work was preceded by a report that was released in August 2018 and that dealt with the question of the prerequisites for implementation and the necessary measures.

The museum is to be built by the South Harbour

Alongside with the concept planning, the ministry and the City of Helsinki have been preparing a joint perception of possible models for carrying out the project. According to the proposal, a foundation will be established to form the basis for the museum. The foundations behind the existing museums should also merge into the new foundation. Additionally, a company should be established to run the museum. The museum should be built in the South Harbour area as part of a comprehensive development of that area. Further studies about the premises, the economy and the administration will be needed to advance the project. The preparatory work is intended to continue over the spring.

The Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki will, jointly with the management of the existing museums, make a decision about carrying on with the preparation of the model for implementation.

- Finland deserves to have a world-class museum of architecture and design. There is an excellent opportunity and support for realizing it in Helsinki. This has become evident during our deliberations. Finland is famous for its architecture and its design. You can build on this reputation and thus spur development and growth within the industry. The new museum draws on tradition, but challenges the habitual museum experience and helps visitors see future alternatives. In this way it will add to the awareness about Helsinki and the city’s attraction as the world’s most functional city, asserts CEO Tuomas Auvinen, who headed the project committee.

- I am satisfied that the concept planning of the new museum that I started last autumn has advanced well. The importance of architecture and design to the Finns is recognised, and the new museum is largely felt to be necessary. This is indicated by the fact that the project has been positively received, says Sampo Terho, the Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport.

- The city is prepared to promote the construction of a new museum in Helsinki in line with the concept plan, on the condition that there is agreement among the various partners about the funding and the advancement of the project. It is essential that the city invests in world-class content and experiences - not in walls only. The city appreciates the maritime character of the South Harbour area and the development of this area. Choosing to build the museum in this particular area is an opportunity for the city to develop a new kind of urban space in the heart of the city, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori points out.  

Further information:

The concept plan on the Ministry's website

World-class Museum of Architecture and Design to be established in Helsinki – Report on the prerequisites for implementation and the necessary measure. Publications of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland 2018:29 

Contact information:

The Ministry of Education and Culture: Director General Riitta Kaivosoja, phone +358 295 3 30129, [email protected]

City of Helsinki: Director for Strategic Initiatives Sanna-Mari Jäntti, phone +358 400 536 581, [email protected]

The foundation for the Museum of Finnish Architecture: Museum Director Reetta Heiskanen, phone +358 50 5449 094, [email protected]

The foundation for the Design Museum: Museum Director Jukka Savolainen, phone +358 50 307 0455, [email protected]

Head of the project committee: CEO Tuomas Auvinen, phone +358 50 648 48, [email protected]

Culture Sampo Terho