The price of repairs at the contemporary art museum remains unclear. Kiasma reopens when the nearby Ateneum closes.

This winter, it was not possible to heat the tent that covers Kiasma, which slowed down the renovations. Image: Jouni Immonen/Yle

The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki reopens in early April with the ARS22 exhibition, although exterior renovations will continue until next summer.

ARS22 is the 10th installment in an irregular series of major international contemporary art exhibitions dating back to 1961.

Kiasma has been closed since November 2020, first due to the pandemic and then due to a renovation that began over a year ago. Work on its iconic curved roof will continue until at least July.

“The scaffolding above the entrance will be dismantled, but the reconstruction of the sheet metal roof will continue for several more months”, specifies Selja Flinkconstruction manager at Senator Properties, which manages most of the state-owned real estate.

The curved shape of Kiasma’s sheet metal roof is very demanding, she said.

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Kiasma’s curved roof is a demanding structure that will require work until at least July. Image: Mikko Koski/Yle.fi

“The building was originally poorly constructed and when we opened the roof we saw all sorts of problems including water damage and poor insulation,” she told Yle.

Designed by American architect steven hollthe museum opened in 1998.

This cold and snowy winter also brought its own challenges. It was not possible to heat the huge plastic tent that covers the entire Kiasma during repairs, so a small mobile tent was built inside that could be heated for the steelworkers.

Kiasma’s renovation budget has already been increased twice, from 19.5 million euros at the start to 28.4 million. The final price remains uncertain.

“The contract has also expanded, as, for example, it was decided to replace all the windows after the initial investment decision. The renovation work inside the museum has also expanded to include the infrastructure technical, for example,” Flink explained.

Kiasma reopens on April 8 with the ARS22 exhibition.

Ateneum also facing renovations

The Ateneum art museum, which like Kiasma is part of the Finnish National Gallery, will close after next week for an overhaul of its ventilation system. Its public toilets will also be renovated.

The country’s most popular museum is set to reopen next January, although the exact date is not yet known.

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The Ateneum dates from 1888. Image: Jouni Immonen/Yle

“When renovating a 130-year-old building, you have to be ready for anything,” said the museum’s communications director, Johanna Eiramo.

The last major renovation of the Ateneum dates back to the 1980s, when it was closed for several years. In 2015, the third floor was closed when the exterior roof and other areas were repaired.

“Good ventilation has become even more important during the pandemic. And, of course, the right level of humidity is important for preserving works of art,” Eiramo said.

By its last day, Sunday March 27, the Ateneum has extended its opening hours until 8 p.m. In addition, the Ateneum will be open next Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with free entry for students and under 25s. The museum is closed on Mondays.

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