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Helsinki City Council Shuts Down Guggenheim Museum Proposal in Final Vote

The Helsinki City Council debated late into the evening on Wednesday over whether to move forward with the building of a Guggenheim Museum on the city’s shorefront. In a final vote with fifty-three council members against the museum and only thirty-two in favor, the city rejected the project due to financial concerns.

The city of Helsinki and the Guggenheim Supporting Foundation had recently announced the funding proposal after the Finnish Government rejected the Guggenheim Foundation’s original plan to cover $45 million of the construction costs with taxpayers dollars in September. The new proposal, which was spearheaded by deputy mayor Ritva Viljanen, made the city the principal owner of the building. Last week the Helsinki City Board narrowly voted in favor of the more clearly outlined funding plan in an 8-7 vote.

Hours before the meeting started, dozens of people gathered in Senate Square to protest the project and call for the city’s money to be invested in its existing institutions. During the days leading up to the meeting there has been extensive lobbying from both sides involving former presidents and prime ministers, poster campaigns, and calls for demonstrations.