The much-awaited Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum is on track for completion in 2025, according to a recent announcement from the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

Representing a bold and visionary collaboration between DCT Abu Dhabi and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry as an experiment in inventive 21st century museum design.

Located in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the museum will be an architectural landmark inspired by the vernacular architecture of the UAE and the region. The latest addition to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s international network of museums, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be the region’s pre-eminent museum dedicated to global modern and contemporary art and programming with a specific focus on West Asia, North Africa and South Asia (WANASA).

Originally conceptualised as a 450,000 square feet structure, and subsequently revised to 320,000 square feet, the museum will still be the largest Guggenheim in the world.

First announced in 2006, the museum’s development went through a series of challenges with the initially planned 2012 opening put off due to worldwide recession, and more recently, the pandemic causing a further delay. However, this period was put to good use to build the curated collection, which currently comprises more than 600 works encompassing diverse artistic mediums, several generations of artists, and an ever-growing number of countries and regions, spanning a period circa 1960 to the present.

Richard Armstrong, director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation stated: “The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, housed in Frank Gehry’s distinctive building, 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’s design of the building defines a new approach to the museum visitor experience and presents an innovative vision for viewing contemporary art in the context of a desert landscape. Inspired by expansive industrial studio spaces, the museum design reflects the large scale at which many contemporary artists work, and presents new gallery layouts unlike conventional museum spaces.

Clusters of galleries in varying heights, shapes, and character allow for curatorial flexibility in organising exhibitions at dimensions that have not previously existed. The design also incorporates sustainable elements appropriate for the region, including natural cooling and ventilation of covered courtyards using cone-like structures encircling the museum, which take inspiration from traditional wind towers found throughout the Middle East.

Image Courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP