The Kiasma at Helsinki is a museum for contemporary art. The name refers to the optic chiasma, the point where optic nerves cross in the brain. The architecture is fantastic and the museum conception is a bit crazy and therefore the museum is absolutely fun to visit. It was built in the 1990s after a lot of controversies and after the plans of U.S. architect Steven Holl. He was the first foreigner to design a building in Helsinki after the time of German architect Carl Ludwig Engels.

The building has four floors and on #1 und #2 the normal exhibition showing modern art since the 1960s is presented. The floors #3 and #4 are used for temporary exhibitions. On the ground floor you’ll also find a coffee bar and a museum shop. The Kiasma is located at Mannerheim square, directly next to the main railway station. It stands directly next to an important memorial, the Mannerheim memorial. But who was Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, who is honored as a national hero in Finland?

He was born in 1867 into an aristocratic family. He was intelligent, very analytical and learning foreign languages very fast – but he was also a rebel. After being thrown out of the Finnish army he decided to join the Russian army in World War I. Later he became first commander of the Finnish army and was responsible for a lot of bloodshed in the Finnish civil war.

So why do the Finns still honor him? In World War II Finland joined the attack of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union to get back lost territories. Hitler wanted to motivate the Finnish army to engage more, but Mannerheim decided to not invade the neighbor more than necessary. When Nazi Germany surrendered he therefore was in a position to negotiate with the Soviet Union and preserve the independence of Finland.

Museum of contemporary art
Mannerheiminaukio 2
00100 Helsinki

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