The Smithsonian is considering opening its first international exhibition space in “Olympicopolis” - London’s former Olympic park that is to be transformed into a world-class cultural hub by 2021. Should the self-financed proposal be approved, it will be the first time in the institution’s 168-year history to build a public venue outside of the United States.
“We see this as an unprecedented opportunity to show the breadth of the Smithsonian in one of the most diverse cities in the world,” stated Smithsonian acting secretary Al Horvath.
British officials first approached the Smithsonian in the spring; London Mayor Boris Johnson and the site’s developers pledged $50 million to the Smithsonian’s proposed section of the cultural campus. If built, the building is expected to be roughly 3700-square-meters and showcase relics from the institution’s existing collections, of which only five-percent is typically on view at any given time.
As the Washington Post suggests, the new outpost would elevated the Smithsonian’s status, making it part of an elite group of museums - such as the Guggenheim in New York and the Louvre in Paris - with a global presence.
Other key cultural venues planned for the developing educational and cultural district includes the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, University College London East and the University of the Arts London.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, designed by Adjaye Associates, is expected to open near the US National Mall next year. BIG also recently unveiled an ambitious 20-year restoration plan for the institution's Washington DC campus.