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Smithsonian confirms talks over London Olympic park outpost

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The Smithsonian museum has confirmed plans to open a UK outpost in London’s Olympic park

Earlier this week, the Washington-based museum’s board gave the go-ahead for its acting secretary Al Horvath to develop terms for an agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) that would establish an outpost in the park’s planned Olympicopolis cultural centre.

The deal was hinted at late last year when the contest for the Olmpicopolis job was launched (see AJ 16.10.14).

The Smithsonian would take up residence alongside the Victoria and Albert Museum, University of the Arts London and Sadler’s Wells on the 76,000m2 scheme on Stratford Waterfront.

Expected to open in 2021, the planned 3,750m² gallery space will focus on America’s history and contribution to science and will feature both permanent and visiting exhibitions.  

It will be the first time in the Smithsonian’s 168-year history that the museum has developed a permanent base outside the US. David Adjaye is already working on a $500 million new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC for the Smithsonian organisation. The scheme is set to complete later this year.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘It would be a massive coup to attract the Smithsonian Institution to east London. The Smithsonian is a truly extraordinary and unique organisation and I am absolutely thrilled that we are progressing talks regarding its involvement in the world-class arts and education quarter we are creating in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.’

Chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, David Goldstone, added: ‘To have the world’s largest museum and research complex taking such interest in the project shows the massive potential Olympicopolis has to offer.’

Last month, six teams, including O’Donnell & Tuomey, David Chipperfield, Asif Khan and Alison Brooks Architects, were named on the shortlist to design the Olympicopolis cultural and education quarter (AJ 12.12.14). The winning team will be announced in late spring 2015 and is expected to also work on the new Smithsonian museum.


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