FRANK GEHRY • CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be a preeminent platform for contemporary art and culture that presents the most important artistic achievements of our time. From its location in the Middle East—a central axis between Europe, Asia, and Africa—the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will contribute to a more inclusive and expansive view of art history that emphasizes the convergence of local, regional, and international sources of creative inspiration rather than geography or nationality. At the same time, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will acknowledge and celebrate the specific identity derived from the cultural traditions of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, as well as other countries in the Middle East.
The museum’s collection will encompass art in all mediums produced around the world from the 1960s to the present day, and will be a catalyst for scholarship in a variety of fields, chief among them the history of art in the Middle East in the 20th and 21st centuries. A dynamic program of changing exhibitions will explore common themes and affinities among the work of artists across time and place. Commissions created specifically for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection will reinforce the museum’s commitment to working with artists and supporting contemporary artistic production.
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, is an experiment in inventive 21st-century museum design. 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.
Currently under development, the new museum will be situated on a peninsula at the northwestern tip of Saadiyat Island adjacent to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Surrounded on three sides by the gleaming waters of the Arabian Gulf, the building site also serves as a manmade breakwater configured to protect the island’s pristine north beach zone.
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 organizing exhibitions at dimensions that have not previously existed. Evolving from several main cues, clusters of galleries connected by catwalks center around a covered courtyard. Additional vertical clusters of galleries pile on top of the central circulation creating a combination of vertical and horizontal spaces for exhibition organization. The design also incorporates sustainable elements appropriate for the region, including natural cooling and ventilation of covered courtyards derived from the concept of traditional wind towers found throughout the Middle East.