Abu Dhabi: For many countries around the world, art museums serve important roles not only as ambassadors of art and culture, they also provide an avenue for global artists to represent their respective countries.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which will open in 2013 as part of Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island Cultural District, is one such museum. Designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, the 450,000-square foot museum will house not only pieces of Western art, but works by artists from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America.

"What is unique about the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is its scale, location, architecture and the collection that is set to be displayed there when it is completed," Valerie Hillings, associate curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Abu Dhabi Project, Guggenheim Foundation, said.

"Also, we are working with international contemporary artists to create site-specific pieces," she added.

The museum will also have a one-floor permanent collection whose aim, like the Guggenheim in New York, is to highlight just how global the art world is, along with temporary exhibitions showcasing a wide range of art pieces from around the region and the world.

Rigorous procedures

"While we haven't started amassing a collection [for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi] yet, we are searching for pieces that would provide a balance between the global and regional art worlds," Susan Davidson, senior curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Guggenheim Museum, said. "We will go through the same rigorous procedures that are a standard in any museum," she added.

To continue fostering interest in the Guggenheim, whether from residents in the UAE, art lovers, galleries or from artists from around the region and the world, and to celebrate the museum's fiftieth anniversary, an exhibition entitled The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum has been organised by TDIC (Tourism Development and Investment Company) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The display, which began on Tuesday, will be open until February 4, 2010 at the Emirates Palace and includes critically acclaimed pieces, such as Paul Cézanne's Bend in the Road Through the Forest (1873-75), Willem de Kooning's Composition (1955), Vasily Kandinsky's Decisive Rose (1932), Paul Klee's New Harmony (1936), Piet Mondrian's Composition 8 (1914), Robert Motherwell's Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 110 (1971), and Jackson Pollock's Untitled (Green Silver) (1949).

In addition, the Guggenheim is offering educational programmes, such as the panel discussion ‘From Private to Public: Patronage and the Museum in the Modern Era', moderated by Richard Armstrong, and featuring international art leaders, along with various discussions, and a film-screening and lecture on ‘Abstraction in Motion' with John G. Hanhardt, curator, Nam Jun Paik Archive and consulting curator of Film and Media Arts, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, among many other programmes.

So, while the official launch of the Guggenheim's physical museum will be in approximately three years from now, the programmes that the museum is embarking on, as well as its participation in various art-related events in the UAE capital, is sure to keep interest about it alive and well. And as the day for its official opening draws nearer, excitement and anticipation for what it will hold will continue to build until finally, priceless pieces from the past and present, will be marvelled by all who view them.

Breaking down boundaries

 Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, and to collecting, conserving, and studying the art of our time.

The foundation realises this mission through exceptional exhibitions, education programmes, research initiatives, and publications, and strives to engage and educate an increasingly diverse international audience through its unique network of museums and cultural partnerships.

With nearly three million annual visitors worldwide, the Guggenheim and its network of museums is one of the most-visited cultural institutions in the world.

In 2013 the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open.