By 2021, the Smithsonian Institution could open its first permanent international gallery in London. The Institution's board approved the start of lease negotiations on Monday for a new 40,000-square-foot space at the planned "Olympicopolis" cultural hub at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the area formerly occupied by the London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympicopolis site is near the Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA-designed London Aquatics Center, which opened as a public facility last year, as well as the Populous-designed Stadium, the future home of West Ham United. The Smithsonian space would join a planned 215,000-square-foot outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, a 75,000-square-foot space and 600-seat theater from dance organization Sadler's Wells, and a new campus for the University of the Arts London's fashion college. University College London is also planning a nearby campus with the college's first design school, a museum, and the Centre for Experimental Engineering.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) was created in April 2012 to develop the London 2012 Olympics sites. In December, the LLDC announced the six teams shortlisted to design Olympicopolis, and expects to announce a winning team in late spring.
The Smithsonian stateside is roughly 60 percent funded with federal money, but the London space's operations would be paid for with private donations, retail profits, and admission to temporary exhibitions. (The permanent exhibition would be free.) The LLDC and London Mayor Boris Johnson have already raised $50 million for the project.