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Amos Rex Square.

Amos Rex, a New Subterranean Art Museum, Opens in Helsinki

A new nearly $60 million private museum, designed by architectural firm JKMM, is opening in the Finnish capital of Helsinki tomorrow. The underground institution will house the late local arts patron and newspaper publisher Amos Anderson’s holdings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Finnish art. Funded by Anderson’s Konstsamfundet association, which ran the Amos Anderson Art Museum out of the collector’s former home and office from 1965 to 2017, the arts hub will stage exhibitions of experimental contemporary art, twentieth-century modernism, and even ancient art.

The 23,350-square-foot museum is located under the Lasipalatsi, or glass palace, a former entertainment and retail complex that was built by three Finnish architecture students, Viljo Revell, Heimo Riihimäki, and Niilo Kokko, for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics—which was postponed until 1952 due to World War II. The restored mall currently serves as the entrance to the museum’s subterranean galleries and is the home of administrative offices, a restaurant, and the Bio Rex Cinemas, which partially inspired the museum’s name.

The institution’s exhibition spaces are situated beneath two undulating domed roofs, which perforate the public square found aboveground. The bulbous skylights that adorn the top of the art bunker create a playful outdoor landscape that serves as a kind of public jungle gym. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. Architect Freja Stahlberg added, “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight.”

“Massless,” a series of digital projections and immersive installations by the art and design collective teamLab, will inaugurate the space.

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