Last chance to see Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim vision

By Eugene Harnan

ABU DHABI // Residents have until tomorrow to snatch a glimpse ofwhat Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim Museum is going to look like.

A scale model of the Guggenheim Museum that is to be built on Saadiyat Island. Galen Clarke / The National

A scale model of the Guggenheim Museum that is to be built on Saadiyat Island. Galen Clarke / The National

It is merely a model – the basement structure and seawall are the only parts of the actual building that have been completed – but, at around 10 metres by 15 metres, it is the most detailed model of the museum yet produced.

Unlike the much smaller model that has been on display in the Emirates Palace hotel, the new version gives viewers a detailed look at the museum’s atriums and exhibition galleries.

The model was shipped directly from the architect Frank Gehry’s office in Los Angeles and has been on display at the Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat island since then, but tomorrow at 8pm the exhibit closes.

After that, it is not known when or where the public might have the next chance to see it. The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of Saadiyat, has hinted, however, that the wait may not be more than a few days.

Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim, due to open in late 2013 or early 2014, will have more than 13,000 square metres of gallery space.

The museum is part of the first phase of TDIC’s plans for the island, which will also be home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum.

The 270-hectare cultural district, which occupies about 10 per cent of the island, is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year once finished in 2018, according to a study by the US-based consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton in 2006.

The second phase of the district will include a maritime museum and a performing arts centre.

When the project was announced in 2006, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of TDIC, said the island was expected to attract about Dh100bn in investment, while infrastructure costs would be about Dh5.5bn.

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