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Helsinki’s New Museum Celebrates the 'Bizarre'

The large-scale Amos Rex puts the Finnish capital firmly on the map, and on Instagram feeds.

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As more museums and exhibits get behind the Yayoi Kusama-inspired immersive trend, Amos Rex, Helsinki’s brand new subterranean museum has created a blockbuster cultural attraction—above and below ground.

The new $58 million art space, built by JKMM Architects, opened on August 30. The local firm spent five years creating and perfecting the 23,350-square-foot museum inside, and below, the Lasipalatsi—an iconic 1930s functionalist shopping center known as the "Glass Palace”, in the hub of Helsinki.

Due to Lasipalatsi’s protected landmark status as a modernist masterpiece, the firm couldn’t construct a new building behind the listed property, on the Lasipalatsi Plaza (which served as a bus terminal until the early 2000s). Instead, a series of bulbous domes sporting large skylights dot the plaza landscape above ground—a total hit with climbing children and selfie-snapping Instagrammers alike.

Below ground, visitors can enjoy exhibits of the latest contemporary art to 20th-century Modernism and ancient cultures. And the grand opening exhibit has set the bar high for what's to come. Massless, created by teamLab, a 500-person Tokyo-based digital art collective formed of artists, designers, programmers, mathematicians, engineers, and architects that explore the new relationship between humans and nature. They’re the ones responsible for the world’s first digital art museum.

teamLab's exhibition at Amos Rex consists of fan favorites such as Vortex of Light Particles, an immersive piece that involves an inverted waterfall, making full use of the museum’s domed and modular ceiling and Graffiti Nature: Lost, Immersed and Reborn, an interactive display of flowers and animals moving around the space in reaction to visitors movements.

The museum says on its website that it hopes the new opening ‘will reinforce Helsinki’s status as a safely bizarre European city of culture’. We'll see how the next few exhibits make use of the vast, domed space.

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