Just when you thought it was safe to travel in second-tier democracies around the world, this morning the Guggenheim struck again. Helsinki, the capital and largest city of the top hockey nation in eastern Scandinavia, announced today that it has commissioned the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation “to conduct a concept and development study, exploring the possibility of creating a new Guggenheim Museum in Finland.”
“We loved the Guggenheim Guadalajara so much that we wanted one of our own,” Helsinki mayor Jussi Pajunen said today at a press conference.
Guggenheim Foundation and museum director Richard Armstrong, in Helsinki for the announcement, winced. Deputy mayor Tuula Haatainen whispered something in Pajunen’s ear.
Pajunen turned away from Haatainen and back to the crowd. “I apologize for the confusion about the Guggenheim Guadalajara. It turns out it was never built, that the project was canceled in 2009. Sometimes even the mighty Kiprusoff lets in a soft goal.”
The crowd murmured audibly, aware that the once mighty Miikka Kiprusoff has been letting in a lot of soft goals for the NHL’s Calgary Flames this year.
“Nevermind Guadalajara!” the mayor continued. “I loved the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim on the East River in lower Manhattan. I still love visiting the Guggenheim Las Vegas. The Jean Nouvel-designed Guggenheim Rio de Janeiro showed how timeless French-and-American cultural imperialism can be. We think that the Guggenheim Helsinki can do for Finland what Finland’s own Lauri Korpikoski has done for the National Hockey League.”
Deputy mayor Haatainen leaned forward again and whispered something in the mayor’s ear, presumably about how Korpikoski may have been chosen to much acclaim in the first round of the 2004 NHL draft, but that he hasn’t done squadoosh since.
“Tom Krens is a handsome man,” he said. “This morning I woke up and thought to myself, ‘I look a lot like him.’ Also, I feel Finnish today because I remember Lauri Korpikoski! The Rangers drafted him in 2004, right? Come to think of it, whatever happened to him?”
Haatainen stood up, leaned into the microphone and explained to Armstrong and to the audience that Korpikoski never really panned out in New York and was now with Phoenix.
The assembled audience winced at the unintentionally apt metaphor, but secretly felt pride at how it merged one Finnish passion (hockey) with another (bumbled metaphors that can be ‘fixed’ when what the freakishly tall American says is translated into Finnish).
”We’re engaging an entire continent,” Krens Armstrong said. ”We live in a very international world. From the perspective of operating museums, all our contact is East-West. The North-South equation doesn’t exist. To ignore that is crazy. And you know what else is crazy? People keep believing us when we build all of these things!”
In a related story, digital art journalists around the world were delighted at the opportunity to publish the above photograph made available by the City of Helsinki.