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Kiasma Museum, Helsinki, Finland

Naming the museum Kiasma (in Finnish - chiasm) in honor of the connection point of chromatids, would already be enough to attract the attention of a sophisticated tourist, however, the originality of this museum is not limited to its name. Kiasma, built from 1992 to 1998 for the Finnish National Gallery, was created as a place where visitor will fall in love with contemporary art.

The architect of the museum is American Steven Holl, whose project was selected among 516 projects, submitted to an architectural competition for the creation of the museum of contemporary art. Holl’s project is based on three main ideas. First, while creating Kiasma, Steven Holl was inspired by the forms of the human body and its internal organs. For him, architecture and the human body are intertwined. As a result, the building reminds interconnected chromatids (resembles the English letter X).

The second idea, which lies in the basis of Kiasma’s architectural idea - is its integration with the surrounding urban landscape. Kiasma was built in a final formed urban area. Steven Holl made every effort to create a harmony between the museum and the existing surrounding urban space. The museum consists of two main parts, which are interwoven with each other. One of these parts is rectilinear, and the second - curvilinear. The rectilinear side is symmetric to the train station, located next to the building, and the curvilinear one is adapted to the surrounding urban landscape. Steven Holl did his best in order to create harmony between Kiasma with its super modern appearance and the Mannerheiminaukio square with the equestrian monument of Marshal Mannerheim (was the president of Finland from 1944 to 1946), standing on it. As a result, the museum complex is surrounding the monument without obscuring it.

The third main idea of Kiasma project is Steven Holl's love for natural light. The curvilinear part of the museum has been planned in accordance with the line of the motion of the sun in order to maximally use the natural lighting during the day. Glass ceilings and numerous windows fill the house with sunlight, helping the human eye to see every detail of exposed exhibits. Inside the building, there is no central corridor: halls are interconnected by a network of different passages. All the interior space of the building is a vivid example of harmonious connection of uneven shapes and natural illumination.

Kiasma has 25 galleries, a music hall, bookstore, cafe, restaurant, etc. The museum's exhibits are illustrating modern Finnish art from the sixties of the past century to the present day. The museum contains about four thousand exhibits.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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