In 2011, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation embarked on a year-long study to assess the feasibility of opening a museum in Helsinki, Finland. The study marked a point of departure for the worldwide Guggenheim network, beginning the process not with the creation of an architectural identity, but rather the development of a detailed, needs-based assessment of opportunity. To do so, the Guggenheim needed to develop a robust understanding of the cultural ecosystem of Helsinki , while deepening its understanding of what it means to be a global 21st century museum.
The process began with a comprehensive research audit to aggregate and assess core findings from a number of studies on Finland and neighboring regions.
Three research trips followed the communications audit: two to Helsinki to assess the cultural landscape and meet with key stakeholders, and one to visit comparable cultural organizations throughout Scandinavia to analyze the unique market opportunity for a Guggenheim project in Finland.
Triggered by key insights, two work sessions were facilitated—one in New York and one in Helsinki—where thought leaders from the fields of art, architecture, and design convened to brainstorm ideas for the project.
A 175-page feasibility study was developed, including a brief cultural history of Finland and Helsinki, a peer benchmarking study of Finnish and Nordic arts institutions, mission and exhibition proposals, a market study, a legal structure, and a preliminary building program. The Guggenheim effectively translated a grand vision into an informed, actionable proposal and strategy.