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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Zayed National Museum collaboration with British Museum 'successfully concluded'

Culture and tourism authority speaks of successful conclusion to relationship with London and says development of Saadiyat museum will continue

A model of the proposed Zayed National Museum at Abu Dhabi Cityscape 2016. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
A model of the proposed Zayed National Museum at Abu Dhabi Cityscape 2016. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Collaboration between the British Museum and the planned Zayed National Museum has been successfully concluded, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority says.

The authority denied reports in the international media that a 10-year consultancy with the British Museum for the Saadiyat Island museum had been ended early.

“We have now concluded the development phase of the project, which was completed in spring 2017,” the authority said. “Following this phase, the ongoing development of the collection will be undertaken by a dedicated in-house team.”

While the partnership with the British Museum was announced eight years ago, the duration of the relationship and its value has never been disclosed.

The UK museum provided specialists and staged three high-profile exhibitions in Abu Dhabi featuring items from its collection, in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

“All parts of the advisory agreement have successfully concluded,” the authority said.

First announced in November 2007, with a striking design by the architect Norman Foster, the Zayed National Museum was originally slated to be the first of several to open in the new Saadiyat Island Cultural District.

The opening was announced as for 2012 and 13, later revised to last year. Foundation works for the museum, and the neighbouring Guggenheim, were completed by 2010 but contracts for the construction have yet to be awarded.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the third major museum on Saadiyat, will open on November 11 after nearly five years of construction.

The British Museum said it had developed a close partnership with the authority and created a connection that both will continue to value.”

It called the Zayed National Museum “a significant development for the UAE”.

“There is nowhere in the Middle East where the history of the whole region can be studied and it is more important than ever that the material for a proper understanding of the region’s history be made publicly available,” the museum said.

The authority said development on all three museums had continued since 2007 and described the Zayed National Museum as “the centrepiece of the Saadiyat Cultural District”.

The museum will “serve as an important site of learning and exchange for visitors and residents”, it said.

“A team of researchers, curators and conservators are working with a dedicated project management team” within the authority, “and they continue to develop the curatorial narrative of the future museum as well as its permanent collection”.

The authority has said only that a revised timeline for the completion of the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be announced when building tenders have been awarded.

But it said that cultural activities relating to both institutions, including talks, temporary exhibitions and public education programmes, would continue.

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