The story of Kiasma

Photo: Finnish National Gallery

Birth of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

1939 Nykytaide ry (‘Contemporary Art Society’) is founded in response to the lack of suitable venues and the high cost of exhibitions.The society plays an important role in the art scene, particularly in the 1950s.

1960s Support mounts for the idea of establishing a museum of modern art.Increasing public debate and press coverage concerning the museum and the need for one.Official positions are divided between a central museum, on the one hand, and a museum of modern art and the Ateneum building, on the other.

1961 The first ARS exhibitionorganised jointly by Nykytaide ry and the Finnish Fine Arts Academy.

1965 The State Arts Committee issues a statement on a central art museum, whose location is envisioned to be in the Töölönlahti area.The plan survives until the mid-1970s.

1970s Several solutions are suggested to problems of space occasioned by new art forms: renovation of the Ateneum building, construction of a State art centre, and a new building in the Pasila district.

1975 The Government issues the first statement advocating the founding of a museum of contemporary art.An action plan of the Arts Council of Finland calls for the speedy establishment of a centre for contemporary art to remedy the lack of exhibition venues in the centre of Helsinki.

1980s The decade is characterised by growing public debate in the press, in committees and seminars, and by initiatives for the founding of a museum of contemporary art.In the prevailing conditions of prosperity, Finland is perceived to be incomplete without such a museum, particularly as cultural activity is on the rise.

1983 Founding of Nykytaiteen museo ry (‘Association for Museum of Contemporary Art’)to participate in public debate, influence public opinion and engage in publishing and events organisation.

1986 Porkkana ry (‘Carrot Association’) is founded by young art historians, students of art history, critics and artists.It advocates the founding of a museum of contemporary art by conducting spontaneous concrete actions to promote the project.

1987 Artists’ Association MUU is founded to bring together artists working across disciplinary boundaries or outside conventional art media.The association takes a strong stand on plans for a contemporary art museum.

1988 Publication of a report by the Central Art Museum Committee on the founding of a national central museum of fine arts.The report includes a proposal for an act and a decree on a national gallery and the date for founding the Museum of Contemporary Art.The Act and the Decree proposed in the report are adopted in the 1990 State budget proposal.

1989 A land deal between the City of Helsinki and the State solves the problem of funding the building of the new museum.A committee is appointed to draw up the plan for the establishment of the museum.

1990 The Museum of Contemporary Art becomes operational on 1 September.It is initially housed in temporary premises on Kansakoulukatu, and from May 1991 in the renovated Ateneum building.

1992 A design competition for the Museum of Contemporary Art is launched in the autumn.

1993 American architect Steven Holl’s entry Chiasma is chosen as winner from among 516 submissions.

1996 The construction of Kiasma begins along Mannerheimintie.

1998 The opening of the museum is celebrated in May.During the opening weekend, the museum has 30,000 visitors.

2011 The total number of visitors to Kiasma passes the three million mark.

2014 Kiasma closes for repairs in September, to be reopened in spring 2015.