The architecture of Kiasma

One of the leading museums of contemporary art in the Nordic region, Kiasma delights and provokes, impresses, surprises and entertains. Kiasma is a museum of contemporary art under the umbrella of the Finnish National Gallery. Its primary role is to educate the public on contemporary art and to strengthen the status of art in Finland in general.

The building itself is a major architectural landmark situated right in the heart of Helsinki. Kiasma was designed by American architect Steven Holl. The museum opened to the public in 1998.

The mission of Kiasma is to publicise and collect art of our time. It seeks to make contemporary art accessible to as large an audience as possible and thereby to offer people new experiences and new perspectives on life.

Five floors packed with art and events

The exhibition spaces in Kiasma are located on four floors, in addition to which there is Kiasma Theatre on the ground floor.

Kiasma in numbers

Materials Kiasma is made of

Kiasma is Finnish for chiasma, a term that describes the crossing of nerves or tendons or the intertwining of two chromatids, the thread-like strands of a chromosome. The name is a fitting symbol for a museum of contemporary art: Kiasma is a place of encounters. It is an arena for the exchange of opinions and the redefinition of art and culture.

Light lives in Kiasma

The most important building material in Kiasma is light. Architect Steven Holl was fascinated by the natural light in Finland, the way it lives with the changing seasons and times of day. The shapes and textures of the building were designed with light in mind. The character of natural light changes depending on the direction it is coming from, and artificial lighting in the building adapts to the natural light. Light in Kiasma is uniform in all its diversity.

The main entrance near the statue of Marshal Mannerheim brings the visitor into a high lobby under a glass ceiling. The underlying design principle was the idea of Zen-like peace coupled with a human scale. Staircases winding in different directions, curving corridors and ramps lead the viewer through all five floors of the building.

The unit in the scaling of spaces at Kiasma is the human body. One of the standards in the design of the building adopted by Steven Holl was eye-level at 165 cm. The height and width of doors, the grid on sliding doors and the proportions of the galleries are all based on the golden section.