Kiasma was opened, accompanied by festivities, in May in 1998. During the opening weekend, the museum attracted 30,000 visitors. Kiasma has subsequently established its position as a national, and especially a local meeting place. Kiasma welcomed its millionth visitor in May 2001. The milestone of two million visitors was reached five years later, in May 2006.
The name derives from 'chiasm', which stands for an intersection, particularly the crossing of optic nerves. The name truly is an omen in this case: the central location of the exceptional building, extensive network of a wide variety of partners - in Kiasma the people, ideas and ideologies meet and mingle. Kiasma's policy together with the unique architecture has created international interest.
The building is designed by the American architect Steven Holl.
The main entrance near the statue of Marshal Mannerheim leads the visitor into a high lobby under a glass ceiling. This lends the building personality, which develops in increasingly clearer forms as one walks towards the auditorium and the galleries. A curving ramp leads from the ground-floor lobby towards the core of the museum in the distance. The design is based on ideas about the golden section, Zen-like peace, a human scale. These principles are manifested, for example, by the spatial sequences on the first and third floors, by the lines and details of the galleries.
The spaces of Kiasma are designed to embody a roughness that is typical of places where contemporary art best comes into its own. Features which develop naturally in old factories and warehouses have in Kiasma been given a new, deliberate form, expressing an austerity charasteristic of working spaces.
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