Abu Dhabi mega project Guggenheim set to open in 2026
A five year plan is in place…
Trying to hammer down an estimated completion date for the Abu Dhabi outpost of the Guggenheim Museum, has at times felt as tricky as pinning a name on Banksy.
The project was first announced back in 2006, with a launch date of 2012. That was rolled back to 2017, a date which also came and went “our building is challenging” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, in a press briefing reported on by The Art Newspaper, “it will be his big, late masterpiece” (referring to Frank Gehry, the building’s designer).
Frank Gehry himself, described his vision for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi as “intentionally ‘messy’, moving into clarity.”
Armstrong also gave another firm, realistic timeline for completion “We think it should be five years from next week … It looks like everything is coming together so we can say something definitive. It has been a relatively long gestation”.
Once finished, the Museum will add a jagged smear of wow to the already dazzling Saadiyat Cultural District skyline.
True to the spirit of it, the plans for the building — cut a contemporary, unconventional, but singularly beautiful design. One that contains nods to its host nation, like the funnel-shaped protrusions that occupy sections of the exterior, that were inspired by the region’s historical wind towers.
A work for art
As outside, so within. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will exhibit a collection of modern and contemporary art, from some of the most important creatives of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Abu Dhabi Culture has stated that the museum will have “a special emphasis on West Asian, North African and South Asian art” and will demonstrate “the interconnected nature of today’s art world, where cross-cultural sources of inspiration and transcultural exchange have become the norm.”
Exhibitions at Guggenheim will be curated around the work of individual artists, the histories of various art movements, and around grand themes with pieces from multiple artists across time and space.
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Building something special
The core of the museum will provide 13,000 square metres of gallery space, with the aforementioned cone-like structures adding further exhibitionscape.
Galleries will surround the central atrium on four levels, connected by glass bridges. The design includes 11 cone units where museum guests will be able to view distinct collections by leading contemporary artists.
Thanks to its coastal placement, the building will also include some pretty incredible views, both of the Arabian Gulf and back across Saadiyat Island.
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s cones have been designed to provide ventilation and shade for the museum’s alfresco courtyard areas.
Once completed it will lend Abu Dhabi yet more cultural cred to its, already considerable, clout. On Saadiyat Island alone, we have Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Berklee Abu Dhabi and more. There’s also the breathtaking Zayed National Museum, to look forward to in the not too distant future.
Images: Gehry Partners