London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park could become home to a new branch of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution
The institution oversees 19 United States museums and galleries, including the American Natural History Museum and Portrait and Renwick galleries, and is the world’s largest museum and research complex.
If the talks are successful the Smithsonian would base its first long-term overseas exhibition in the park, boosting its appeal to UK and international visitors.
City Hall says the 40,000-square-foot gallery is expected to open in 2021 and would feature a mix of permanent and rotating exhibits drawn from the Smithsonian’s “vast collections.”
It would be located alongside previously announced new branches of the Victoria and Albert Museum, University of the Arts London and Sadler’s Wells.
Talks with the London Legacy Development Corporation which operates the park opened this week following approval from the Institution’s board.
Mayor Boris Johnson said it would be “massive coup” to bring the Smithsonian to London, adding: “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.”
John McCarter, chair of the Smithsonian’s board, said: “This enterprising initiative from London Mayor Boris Johnson and the LLDC has tremendous potential.
“The proposal is impressive and exciting. The Smithsonian greatly appreciates the opportunity to participate in the development process, and looks forward to the day the doors open.”