The Guggenheim Goes East Again

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Proposed Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Zaha Hadid /Images: ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS

It was in February that Tom Krens stepped down as director of the Guggenheim Foundation. Whoever is named to replace him will be expected to stabilize the expanding Guggen-universe. But meanwhile the Guggenheim keeps going on sheer momentum. Yesterday the government of Lithuania okayed construction of a joint Guggenheim/Hermitage satellite in Vilnius, with a design by Zaha Hadid. The Hadid design won a competition in April in which it beat out proposals by Daniel Libeskind and Massimiliano Fuksass.

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Meanwhile Krens will continue to oversee the development of Frank Gehry’s Abu Dhabi Guggenheim. A lot of Krens’ expansion plans never bore fruit, but whoever succeeds him will still inherit something of a global Guggenheim. The idea is out there now. The Hermitage, the Louvre and the Pompidou are all toying with it. It has always seemed to me that no matter who follows Krens, this Vilnius project, plus Abu Dhabi, may yet turn out to be the springboard for an even larger Guggenheim network in the future — if they can ever make the numbers work.

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