Located on the eastern edge of Saadiyat Island, which is currently being developed as part of a commercial and residential leisure project aimed at creating a cultural center for Abu Dhabi, two new museums are set to open in 2016, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
Building off of notable locations in other parts of the world, these two institutions will blend Western art history with the growing arts presence of the Middle East.
Saadiyat Island Cultural District
Both museums will be part of the new cultural complex being constructed on Saadiyat Island, which is just off the shore of Abu Dhabi. The hope is that this area will be a major tourist draw in the area.
In addition to the Guggenheim and the Louvre, other significant institutions planned for the area include a national museum, a performing arts center, a campus of New York University, in addition to pavilions and areas for arts and culture.
An estimated $27 billion USD will be spent to build up the area.
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Announced in 2006, the Guggenheim is slated to be one of the largest art museums, and the largest of all the Guggenheim locations. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, a number of delays have plagued the project since ground broke in 2011. Now, the 320,000 square foot building is on track for completion in 2017.
The museum will hold and display a collection that includes significant works from cultures in the area.
Its location is stunning, with the Persian Gulf on three sides. The site itself is also a form of protection for the area's beaches.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre project was announced soon after the Guggenheim, in 2007. Construction started in 2009, and it was initially expected to be opened in 2012, which was then delayed to 2013, then to 2015, and finally, it is currently on schedule to be opened towards the end of 2016. The 260,000 square foot structure will have cost staggering costs upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars, with approximately $525 million spent to secure the name itself.
This institution, built by the also legendary architect Jean Nouvel, will also be as interesting as a structure as the Guggenheim, and contains a large domed structure that carries over to the interior, filtering in natural light through a patterned roof. While the Guggenheim will focus on middle-eastern works predominantly, the Louvre is hoping to start a dialogue between Western and Eastern works of art, and will be blending the works they show and collect.
The Fine Print
It should be noted that neither of the museums are actually owned by the institutions of their original names. The Guggenheim foundation has agreed to assist the museum with getting a program established and with ongoing management, but the building itself is owned by the tourism council. In the case of the Louvre, the Abu Dhabi version isn't actually a part of the Paris institute of the same name, but rather has been "leased out" for use over the next 30 years as part of the $525 million spent.
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