$1bn contract awarded for the development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

It will be the region’s pre-eminent museum dedicated to global modern and contemporary art and programming

A $1bn contract for the development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has been awarded by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT – Abu Dhabi). The contract has been awarded to a Besix-Trojan joint venture, which is also building the nearby Zayed National Museum.

The museum is taking shape at Saadiyat island and was designed by Frank Gehry. It is coming up on a 30,000sqm area and will be the largest instalment in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s international group of museums, said a report by the Financial Times.

The report noted that Abu Dhabi has earmarked a total of $6bn for the cultural and creative industries over the next five years, as it seeks to boost growth out of the pandemic and prepare for a post-oil future. The museum project is expected to be complete by 2025.

“Guggenheim Abu Dhabi advances Abu Dhabi’s position as a dynamic centre for arts and culture. The region’s pre-eminent museum of global modern and contemporary art, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will present an equitable platform for art from all over the world. The museum will also play a civic role through its mission to spark wider interest in global modern and contemporary art, fostering diversity and inclusion in a meaningful cultural exchange. As we move forward with our plans, it is crucial to recognise the impact of this museum in realising our vision for the Emirate’s culture and creative industries,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi.

The museum will be another addition to the Saadiyat cultural complex on an island off downtown Abu Dhabi, where the Louvre opened a branch in 2017 and the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith facility comprising a mosque, church and synagogue, is under construction. It is said to be part of a larger complex of arts and cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island with its gallery spaces spread across four levels linked by glass bridges, with a central atrium at its core.

Richard Armstrong, director at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation added, “Today’s announcement represents a significant milestone in the realisation of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Housed in Frank Gehry’s distinctive building, the museum will be home to an expansive and evolving collection of artworks that advance multiple perspectives on the global histories of modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on art from West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia.”

Frank Gehry concluded, “It is truly thrilling to see this project enter into this new phase. I am immensely proud to work closely with our partners, DCT Abu Dhabi and the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, to create a home for their ground-breaking cultural programme. I hope that this building is embraced by the people of the UAE and that this work will endure as a landmark for the country for many years to come.”


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