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Museum Expansion in the Twenty-First Century: Abu Dhabi

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The government of Abu Dhabi, in partnership with powerful western institutions, has embarked on a breathtaking scheme to build four world-class museums and a perform-ing art centre as cornerstones of the development of a new culture-leisure-tourism com-plex on Saadiyat Island. The sudden rise of the Persian Gulf states as hubs of global art and museum development has attracted the attention, not to say skepticism, of the art world. This article explores the political and economic motives and historical context behind the projects as well as some of the challenges they face in the years to come.
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Keywords: Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Louvre Abu Dhabi; Saadiyat Island; museums and diplomacy; museums and modern Middle Eastern art; museums and nationalism; museums and tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tufts University

Publication date: December 5, 2012

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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