Attractions industry news

29 Jan 2015

Smithsonian planning first international site at London's Olympic Park

The US-based Smithsonian Institute is working to finalise a deal to open its first international location at site of the former Olympic Stadium in London.

London's mayor Boris Johnson and developers for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site have already secured £33m (US$50m, €44m) in private contributions for the proposed Smithsonian, which would help anchor the new ‘Olympicopolis’ site upon its opening in 2021.

At present, the Smithsonian has a total of 19 museums in Washington and New York City, the National Zoo (also in Washington) and nine research facilities around the world, but has never opened a visitor attraction outside the US.

The 40,000sq ft (3,700sq m) Smithsonian gallery would be part of the Olympicopolis educational and cultural quarter being developed at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

In September, Boris Johnson launched a major design competition for the new £400m (US$650m, €503m) educational and cultural quarter, with more than 960 international design and architecture firms having already registered their interest. Several high profile names including The Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells dance theatre and University of the Arts London are already involved in the project.

"It would be a massive coup to attract the Smithsonian Institution to east London," said Boris Johnson, who first proposed the collaboration.

“We envision this as being a Smithsonian facility that really allows us to show the breadth and depth of everything that we do,” added Smithsonian acting secretary Al Horvath. “So it won’t be specifically focused on one topic, but will allow us to run the gamut of things that we do — history, science, art, culture and the like.”

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In brief:

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