The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. A Eugene version could complement the shiny new federal courthouse.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. A Eugene version could complement the shiny new federal courthouse.

Word from Finland this week is that city leaders in Helsinki nixed construction of a new satellite Guggenheim museum there, citing the fact that the project was going to cost them $100 million or so.

It would have joined distant campuses in Bilbao and Venice. But no more.

The canceled project is a major opportunity for the people of Eugene. After all,  in this part of the world we have a history of taking on major construction projects that go nowhere. We’re about to close the brand-new psychiatric hospital in Junction City that just opened a year and a half ago at a cost of $130 million.

Eugene’s new city hall –which has cost, what $5.7 million so far? — doesn’t even have a plan yet, just a big empty gravel pad and a lot of confused ideas. Oh, yeah, and a budget that’s a third of the way to that $100 million figure.

And don’t get me started on the University of Oregon, which just threw $11 million down a rat hole in hopes of winning a couple more football games next year.

Obviously, money is no object around here (unless it’s a mere $30k a year to support the Jacobs Gallery). So why not spend our next boondoggle on a lush visual art center with international cachet?

The Guggenheim Eugene would definitely put us on the map. People would probably even get off I-5 to see it.

I’m going to email the Guggenheim people and invite them for a visit.

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