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Helsinki’s cultural quarter gets a new skylight!

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Finland’s capital Helsinki has gained a major new cultural institution and a striking new public space with the completion of Amos Rex. The art museum opens after a five- year, €50 million project designed by architecture firm JKMM, which has seen the refurbishment of the landmark 1930’s Lasipalatsi building in Central Helsinki. At the heart of the museum, 13,000 cubic metres of rock has been excavated to create a new 2,200 sqm world-class flexible gallery space topped with a series of domes and skylights that form the new undulating landscape of the Lasipalatsi Square.

Photo: Mika Huisman/Amos Rex

Amos Rex’s exhibition programme extends from the newest, often experimental, contemporary art to 20th-century Modernism and ancient cultures. Amos Rex aims to present captivating and ambitious art refreshingly and exuberantly. The goal is for the past, present and future to produce unique experiences and surprising encounters beneath and above ground, and on the screen. Amos Rex opens with Massless, an exhibition by the Tokyo-based digital art collective teamLab, which will run until 6 January 2019. In the early half of 2019, Amos Rex will present a retrospective of the Dutch art collective Studio Drift as well as Rene Magritte: Life Line, the first major exhibition of this pioneer of the surrealist movement in Finland. These exhibitions will run in parallel from 8 February to 19 May.

Amos Rex 20180708 Amos Anderson museo, Helsinki. Credit: Tuomas Uusheimo

The opening of Amos Rex is said to be one of the biggest events to occur in the cultural life of Helsinki for a generation and will offer unrivalled facilities for the display of art, exhibitions, film and performance. Art used to be something we hung on the wall and went respectfully to contemplate. Today art is increasingly interactive and conversational. It is something people make and experience together. Contemporary art finds all the time new forms and new media and this is exemplified in the work teamLab. teamLab’s immersive and participatory digital artwork is a fantastic way to demonstrate the expressive possibilities opened up by new galleries. Digital technology has allowed art to liberate itself from the physical and transcend boundaries, and it can turn the relationship between people in the same space into a positive experience.

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Vortex of Light Particles, which has been especially created for this occasion, will be the largest installation in the exhibition. It will create a digital simulation of water pouring upward in reversed gravity towards the uniquely and beautifully domed ceiling, flowing from this underground space to the skylight above. The trajectories of these simulated water particles will form a series of lines, which will in turn create waterfalls and vortex all along the walls and ceiling of this space.

Amos Rex 20180620 Bio Rex, Helsinki. Credit: Tuomas Uusheimo

Amos Rex is the latest addition to the buzzing cultural quarter of Helsinki, which already includes the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki Music Centre, Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall, the National Museum of Finland, the Finnish Museum of Natural History, the Ateneum Museum, Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) and the soon-to be completed Oodi Central Library. The centrepiece of the new museum is a 2,200 sqm gallery space created beneath the Lasipalatsi square which will offer the curators of Amos Rex the opportunity to accommodate large scale works of art and performance, and to stage exhibitions, installations and performance in a hugely flexible space with a high degree of technical control.

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The refurbishment of the 1930’s landmark together with the new museum extension are remarkable additions to Helsinki’s urban culture.The square adjacent to Lasipalatsi is one of the most important public spaces in Helsinki. Now the newly landscaped Lasipalatsi Square with its gently curving domes will be received as a welcome addition to Helsinki’s urban culture.

Have you ever witnessed the Finnish art scene? Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

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