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More on Abu NYU and Dueling Arab MoMAs Planned for Qatar, Dubai

NYU President John Sexton

NYU’s planned college on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is being billed
as a “comprehensive liberal arts campus,” it seems to have a distinct
art-and-architecture vibe: Mariët Westermann, former director of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, is vice chancellor in charge of NYU Abu Dhabi; Hilary Ballon, former professor of art history and archaeology at Columbia University, is its associate vice chancellor; Philippe de Montebello (whom you all know) is “special advisor” for the new campus.

the strong objections that some have raised to the university’s
megabucks deal with the United Arab Emirates should resonate with
museum staffers at the Guggenheim and the Louvre, which are lending
their prestige and expertise to planned new museums expected to inhabit the same island.

In New York Magazine‘s recent article, The Emir of NYU, Zvika Krieger describes the opposition expressed by some NYU professors, “not just to the risk of brand dilution but to [NYU president John] Sexton‘s wholesale
embrace of a regime with a troubling history regarding academic freedom
and human rights (not to mention the state of Israel).”

Abu NYU hasn’t built its campus yet, but it has built a website. Its admissions page states:

Students will be chosen…without regard to race, religion, gender, nationality,
or sexual orientation.

a relief…especially since Krieger reports that “homosexual
activity is illegal in the United Arab Emirates” (which encompass Abu
Dhabi) and “there’s the problem of Israelis’ being barred from entering
the country.” Sounds like Israeli and gay students, if any, should
think twice before straying too far from campus. Will Abu Dhabi
institute a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? Is this climate conducive to the humanistic values of American educational and cultural

Master planning for Abu NYU, by architect Rafael Viñoly, began last month. Viñoly is also designing the Arab Museum for Modern Art in Doha, Qatar.
The first Abu NYU students are to be admitted in Fall 2010.

in nearby Dubai, also part of the UAE, plans were announced June 21 for
“the region’s first Museum of Middle East Modern Art,” on the banks of
Dubai Creek, to be designed by Ben van Berkel‘s Amsterdam-based UN Studio. It will be part of a $13.5-billion Culture
, also to include an amphitheatre for performances and festivals, an
exhibition hall, smaller museums displaying local and international
art, and a shipyard for traditional dhow builders, as well as
residential, commercial and retail zones. This museum seems to be
racing with the Qatar to be “first”: The Dubai version of a museum of
Middle Eastern modern art is scheduled to be completed in 2010. The Qatar counterpart opens in 2011

The press release for the Dubai project does not have a link, but
here’s a photo of van Berkel’s design. Look out, tiny earthlings below! The spaceship has landed:


Planned Museum of Middle East Modern Art, Dubai, designed by Ben van Berkel‘s Amsterdam-based UN Studio

an ArtsJournal blog