The long-delayed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is finally set to welcome visitors in 2026, 20 years after the Guggenheim announced plans for its first location in the UAE back in 2006.
“We think it should be five years from next week,” Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong said at a press briefing, according to the Art Newspaper.
“It looks like everything is coming together so we can say something definitive,” Armstrong added. “It has been a relatively long gestation.”
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi was originally set to launch in 2012 on Saadiyat Island, before being moved to 2017. Pre-COVID, Armstrong said the institution would debut in 2022 or 2023.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi announced in 2006
The Frank Gehry-designed museum will be the Guggenheim’s largest location, covering 320,000 square feet. The project is being overseen by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.
“Our building is challenging; it will be his big, late masterpiece,” Armstrong said. On the effects of COVID-19, he said the museum has “come out as a better institution that is looking more to the future”.
“We’ve had a very active acquisitions programme [at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi] for about 12 years now in the region and globally; it’ll be a museum that looks at the whole world from 1965,” Armstrong added.
In June, Abu Dhabi pledged to invest $6bn in cultural and creative industries as the UAE attempts to diversify its economy away from oil. Saudi Arabia is also creating a host of attractions as part of Vision 2030,
Abu Dhabi investing $6 billion in culture
Abu Dhabi is investing heavily in the development of museums on Saadiyat Island, which is already home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. There are plans for a Zayed National Museum.