Construction Delays Sink British Museum’s Deal With Abu Dhabi

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A rendering of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, which was scheduled to open in 2013, but has not yet begun construction. Credit TDIC/Zayed National Museum

LONDON — Delays in the construction of the Norman Foster-designed Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi means that an agreement with British Museum — which was to help curate exhibitions and lend the new institution around 500 valuable artifacts — is unlikely to be realized.

Although a report in The Art Newspaper on Saturday said that the British Museum and the Zayed National Museum had terminated their 10-year deal, signed in 2009, a spokesman from the British Museum said that the agreement had not ended, and that the contract would run until 2019. But since construction has not yet begun on the Zayed museum, the loan is unlikely to take place within the framework of the existing contact, the spokesman, Hannah Boulton, said.

As the Zayed Museum focuses on building up its own collection over the next several years, he added, the British Museum “does not anticipate lending objects within the current contract period, but loans could be discussed at a later date.”

The Zayed Museum, originally scheduled to open in 2013, is part of the Saadiyat island development that includes outposts of the Louvre and the Guggenheim. Under the original partnership agreement, the British Museum was to receive fees for the long-term loan of some of its holdings, which had not yet been formally specified.

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