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New Opening Date Set for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi [Updated]

New Opening Date Set for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi [Updated]


New Opening Date Set for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi [Updated]

Tourism officials in Abu Dhabi clarified on September 29 that the hotly anticipated Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is projected to open sometime in 2025, not fall 2026 as forecast last week. The preponement is a first for the museum, whose path to completion has since its 2006 announcement been beset by delays due to various factors including economic recession, the Arab Spring, leadership changes in the Emirati tourism department, and conflicts with the Labor Coalition over the working conditions of the migrant laborers hired to build the museum.Speaking September 21 at a press conference in Basel, Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong acknowledged that the institution, which was first announced in 2006, has had a “bit of a long gestation.” The Frank Gehry–designed outpost of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was initially slated to open in 2012, but construction was postponed following the 2008 economic recession and the Arab Spring, as well as changes in leadership at the UAE-backed Tourism, Development, and Investment Company. Another target opening date, 2017, was missed after the institution became embroiled in conflict with the Labor Coalition, which expressed concerns over the working conditions of the migrant laborers hired to build the museum.When completed, the waterfront structure, reported by the New York Times in 2019 to comprise 450,000 square feet, will be roughly twelve times the size of the Guggenheim’s flagship museum, on New York’s tony Fifth Avenue, with a top floor specifically designed to accommodate large-scale works. “Our building is challenging,” noted Armstrong, contending that the structure will stand as the ninety-two-year-old Gehry’s “big, late masterpiece.” Armstrong additionally pointed to the institution’s steady collection-building, saying that in the course of the past dozen years the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi had amassed roughly six hundred works dating from 1965 to the present.At the press conference, Armstrong also provided an update as to the parent institution’s efforts in regard to diversity and accessibility. The Guggenheim last summer released a two-year diversity plan, which included altering hiring practices to be more inclusive, establishing paid internships for students from underrepresented backgrounds, and founding a committee to scrutinize the Guggenheim’s exhibitions and acquisitions in relation to equity and diversity. This past July, the museum named Ty Woodfolk as its first chief culture and inclusion officer. “We have begun to demonstrate a new attitude towards the employees,” Armstrong said; “now the longer project is to change people’s attitudes and their working methods.”This article was updated on September 29.


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