Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Steven Holl Architects 1998
The project is the result of an architectural design competition held in 1992. The winning entry by Steven Holl Architects was selected from 516 participants and was described by the jury as "mysteriously sculpturesque in its design and sensitively innovative in its articulation of form." Construction started in 1996 and took two years.
The name derives from chiasm, the intersection of nerves, alluding to the fertile meeting of people and ideas the Museum aimed at. The Museum of Contemporary Art is part of the Finnish National Gallery, the largest art museum organization in Finland and a national cultural institution that also includes the Ateneum Art Museum, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum and the Central Art Archives. Until 1998 the Museum of Contemporary Art was settled in the Ateneum, sharing its exhibition spaces with the Museum of Finnish Art. The move to the new building brought the opportunity to reinforce the independence of the three museums. In 2000 the Museum of Contemporary Art became the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.
Today Kiasma is a Helsinki landmark. It is made up of two blocks, one smaller and rectilinear and the other bigger and curving. The two blocks are aligned until the bigger curves and intersect the smaller. Zinc, aluminum and glass are the principal used materials. Vertical circulation is an architectural promenade that emphasizes the visit of the Museum. The long and curved ramp that links the different floors allow visitors to gradually immerse themselves in the Museum atmosphere, enhanced by the delicate natural light filtered by the sandblasted glass roof. Due to the curving wall and roof the rooms are all lightly different in size and natural illumination, acquiring more character.
“With Kiasma, there is a hope to confirm that architecture, art, and culture are not separate disciplines but are all integral parts of the city and landscape.”
Antonio Vitale 2009 (updated 2011)
How to visit
Kiasma is in the centre of Helsinki, between Eliel Saarinen’s Railway Station (Rautatieasema) on the East and Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall on the North. Entrance is from the pedestrian area defined by Mannerheimintie, the most important street of the city, and Mannerheiminaukio, a side street of Mannerheimintie. Visit www.ytv.fi/eng for a bicycle or public transport journey planner.
Kiasma opens each days at 10 and closes at 17 on Tuesday, at 20.30 from Wednesday to Friday and at 18 on Saturday and Sunday; it is closed on Mondays. For special opening hours, further information, or to book a guided tour call +358 (0)9 1733 6509, from Monday to Friday, from 9 to 12, or visit www.kiasma.fi.
Books and other web sites
Steven Holl Architects' web site describes the building.
All links outside galinsky will open in a new window. Close it when you've finished, or use the Window menu on your browser, to return to galinsky