The Guggenheim Foundation seems to think it would be just mahvelous to put another museum bearing the Guggenheim brand in Helsinki. The soon-to-be-ex US ambassador Bruce J. Oreck reckons getting a Guggenheim branch would be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Helsinki“. I wonder what the German ambassador would have to say about the one in Berlin, which closed its doors earlier this year.
Anyway, the Foundation wants to put yet another Guggenheim in a prime location on the waterfront in downtown Helsinki. Somewhat unsurprisingly, they are keen to get local support for their project, which means they want the locals to chip in. A lot. And why shouldn’t they? After all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity seeing as there are no art museums whatsoever in Helsinki just yet.
I am happy to announce that I have figured out a solution that should please everybody.
Let’s indeed put a Guggenheim Museum in downtown Helsinki. There’s already a prime location on the waterfront that is not being used for anything (except renovations) at the moment: the Presidential Palace. The office of the President is already a ceremonial one, so s/he doesn’t really need a downtown spot. Even the traditional Independence Day celebrations are held in Tampere this year – why not move the office there permanently? The President could, for instance, take over the revolving top floor of Näsinneula. Keeping an eye on the tax-paying peasants down below was never easier.
Now we’ve figured out where to put Guggenheim Helsinki, we of course have to fill it with suitable artwork. But where would one find works of art worthy to be blessed with the Guggenheim stamp of approval? The answer is obvious. Let’s pack up all the works from the New York branch and ship them to Helsinki. Easy as, and this brings me to what I consider the best selling point of this cunning plan.
Let’s turn the (now empty) Guggenheim museum building on Fifth Avenue, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, into the world’s biggest sauna. The heater could be a classic design: a pile of rocks on the bottom floor. This would join the renowned Finnish sauna tradition with the native American sweat lodge tradition, symbolizing the cross-Atlantic reach of the Guggenheim Foundation. The famous spiraling corridor sprawling on the walls of the building is already pretty much made for installing pews for sauna visitors. A cool, refreshing swim is also available no further than across the street in any of the artificial lakes in Central Park.
So there we have it, a plan that should please Finnish tax payers, the Guggenheim Foundation, sauna-loving New Yorkers, and quite probably everyone else in the Northern hemisphere who cares about this one way or the other. As the father of the idea, I am available to throw the first ceremonial scoop of water on the heater in the newly renovated Solomon R. Guggenheim Public Sauna. Looking forward to it!