â€œ Kiasma (built 1993Â–1998) is a contemporary art museum located along Mannerheimintie in Helsinki, Finland. It is named after the Greek letter "chi" and on the word for "crossing" based on it alluding to the basic conceptual idea of its architect, Steven Holl. The musuem exhibits the contemporary art collection of the Finnish National Gallery founded in 1990. Its central goal is to make contemporary art better known and strengthen its status. â€ž
Museums were a big attraction to my sister and I when we visited Helsinki. There are plenty to choose from in Helsinki so you will always have a lot to do and for little cost. One that we did visit was the Museum of Contemporary Art or better known to locals as Kiasma.
When it comes to location, this is a museum that couldn't get any more central. From the main train station, if you are standing directly in front of it facing forward, all you need to do is head right and then turn right at the first chance you get. The building is massive and made completely out of glass so it would be extremely hard to miss. As we visited in the middle of summer, the sun does glare on the glass and gives in intense shine so be warned to wear sunglasses are you're walking up to it.
What I love about contemporary art museums is that you never really know what you're going to get to see. Each one I have been to has been completely different and always a wonderful surprise. Kiasma was no different. Upon entering the building and paying our Euro10 fee, we began to wander up the big staircase, which was impressive in itself. Along the walls of the staircase were all kinds of different paintings, none of which seemed to fit together at all but was nice to look at on our way up.
The museum is set out on a few different floors and you can get to each of them by the stairs. If you don't fancy doing this each time you go up a floor though, there is also a lift so it is suitable for children and disabled visitors. As we came to the first room, I was quite excited because I didn't know what I was going to get to see. At the time, the museum had on an exhibition about pop culture and as we worked our way around the different rooms, it was clear to see that it was going through a time line. I didn't really notice this properly to begin with but I would say the collections began from the '70s and worked their way up to the present date.
Not everything in this museum is paintings though. Many of the pieces were sculptures of sorts that took up quite a lot of room, often right in the middle of a room. While these could have been given a bit more space, it was nice to see something quite different. Also, Kiasma has a lot of video packages that you can watch/ listen to along your journey although most of them were in Finnish and as there were only headphones available, you couldn't change the language. Obviously, I couldn't understand a word that was being said because of this and as it is a tourist attraction as well as just a museum, it would have been nice to have choices of different languages.
Coming back down to the ground floor meant getting to look at the gift shop. The shop was full of your typical museum items like pens and bookmarks but it also had a lot more. There were prints of some of the works in the exhibits as well as books about the artists. What I did find a little strange was seeing a lot of books or items that had nothing at all to do with what was on show at the museum. From what I understand, Kiasma keeps exhibitions running for quite some time so I didn't see the need to stock a lot of these items.
Overall, this was a good museum that was really interesting. For our Euro10, we spent a good couple of hours here so it was worth the trip and the money.
Children under 18 years free of charge.
The first Friday of the month free entrance at 5pm until 10pm
Wed-Thu 10 to 20.30
Helsinki has 2 excellent art galleries in close proximity to each other. The first - At Ateneum is a more traditional gallery and probably the Finnish equivalent of the National Gallery. Kiasma, was built in 1998 and is one of the architectural highlights of Helsinki. It contains modern art and again has similarities to Tate Modern. Kiasma is at Mannerheiminaukio and also near to the train station. It's a very distinctive modern building and there is a statue of Mannerheim on a horse so it's pretty hard to miss. Kiasma is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10-10 and on Tuesday's from 9-5. It's also closed all day Monday. I'm not sure of the cost because I also visited this gallery on National Musuem Day. The gallery is well worth seeing both for the collection and the design of the building. There are some excellent views of Helsinki from parts of the gallery. Again, as you would expect, most of the work is by Finnish artists and there is a small but growing collection of international works by artists such as our own Tracy Emin. The current special exhibitions include Nina Roos, a Finnish artist; Widening Circle is a showcase of recent international acquisitions; and Vicious Circle by Sirkka-Liisa Sass. I found this a particularly challenging and interesting exhibition as it dealt with her experience of Scoliosis which is a disease which causes curvature of the spine and through this she examined concepts of body image. Kiasma also has a smallish bookshop, there are normally 2 computers for internet usage but they weren't there at the time. And it has an excellent cafe and bar, I recommend the lattes here which are about Â£1.70, they also sell hot chocolate but they put pepper on top which I found a little weird. The bar has djs during the weekend but I don't know how good it is as a evening venue. The website http://www.fng.fi/ has much more information on both galleries and is well w
orth a look. Sinebrychoff Art Museum is currently closed for renovation until 2003. If you only have time to visit one gallery in Helsinki I recommend Kiasma.