Night of the Living Gugg

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is "on track," aims to break ground soon

A rendering of the multifaceted Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (Courtesy Gehry Partners/The Guggenheim Foundation)

After a tumultuous series of ups-and-downs, work on the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is reportedly picking up steam.

According to an interview with Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, given to Euronews at Abu Dhabi’s annual Culture Summit, the museum could open its doors in the next three-to-four years.

The institution’s momentum had seemingly stalled in recent years. Although the project was first announced in 2006 and scheduled to open in 2012, it was repeatedly delayed. The original 2012 opening estimate came and went, as did the revised opening date in 2017, and after an interview with former director of the Guggenheim Foundation, Thomas Krens, it seemed the museum might be dead in the water.

The 320,000-square-foot museum, potentially the Guggenheim’s largest outpost, is slated to open on Saadiyat Island, a ground-up cultural district that holds a number of institutions designed by big-name architects. That includes Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, which itself experienced a number of delays before opening in 2017.



“It’s a big building, parts of it are quite complex and it should take a little bit of time to put together as it’s also quite large,” Armstrong told Euronews. However, he claimed that the project was “on track and on budget,” and that once construction was completed in four years, the Guggenheim Foundation would focus its attention on the fledgling museum over the next 10 years to ensure its success.

As for programming, Armstrong envisioned displaying large-scale works from all over the world, mainly contemporary pieces from 1965 and onwards. That includes carving out space for work by younger, lesser-known artists, with “overscaled” pieces from artists such as James Turrell or Ernesto Neto being placed in the building’s upper levels.

No exact opening date or new budget was given.

AN has reached out to Gehry Partners for comment and will update this story accordingly.

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