February 1, 2017 by Anna Lyon

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is a MUST on any UAE Excursion

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is poised at the intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe. While Saadiyat Island, located just off the coast, lies barren. Therefore, in 2006 the UAE government began a drastic change.

On July 8, 2006, the city of Abu Dhabi signed a contract with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to open a world-class art museum on the northwestern tip of Saadiyat Island. The Guggenheim Foundation collects modern art and is responsible for world class art museums in cities such as Venice, New York, and Bilbao. The Island’s Cultural District is intended to showcase some of the best cultural assets in the UAE.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi continues the Foundation’s commitment to locate, collect, and interpret works of modern art. Curators have begun collecting works from the 1960s to present, and they have already acquired several masterpieces such as Otto Piene’s “Hängende Lichtkugel” (Hanging Light Ball). Some of the works were showcased in a special preview at Manarat in 2014.

The construction of its newest museum was halted in 2011. However, it has since resumed, and this 30,000 square meter museum is expected to open in 2017.

The building, designed by Frank Gehry, is a work of art in itself. Its structure brings to mind building blocks and blue cones. It is surrounded on three sides by water, and its location serves as protection for Saadiyat Island’s north beach. Galleries of varying sizes and heights cluster around courtyards, providing a beautiful backdrop to its steadily growing art collection.

Although the city accepts that it won’t become a cultural icon overnight, Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, cultural adviser at the Emirates’ Ministry of Presidential Affairs, says, “We are strategically building museums that in time will train our own people, so we can find our own voice.”