#GuggOccupied: Protestors occupy the Guggenheim over Abu Dhabi labor practices, museum closes
Members of the Gulf Labor Coalition have descended upon the Guggenheim museum today to protest unethical labor practices by the museum at its satellite construction site in Abu Dhabi. Today's protest comes after five years of pressure by the coalition to ensure protections for the migrant workers working at the site, citing investigations that have revealed "a systematic pattern of human rights abuse among migrant workers in the Emirates."
The action is the last in a string of protests by the Gulf Labor Coalition that started in February 2014. More than 2,000 international artists have signed a boycott of the Abu Dabi Guggenheim, demanding fair wages and reimbursment of recruitment debts for workers, as well as protecting a right to assemble for those on the construction site. "No artist should be asked to exhibit work in a museum built on the backs of abused workers,” says Nitasha Dhillon, artist and G.U.L.F. member. The Coalition has decided to occupy the museum until the Guggenheim Foundation acknowledges the boycott's demands.
UPDATE: According to reports, the Museum has closed and not letting any more visitors into museum. Protestors remain inside.
update , may 4: The Guggenheim Foundation has released its official response:
"We are disappointed that the actions of today’s demonstrators forced the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to close its doors and turn away thousands of members of the public...We share their concerns about worker welfare in the Gulf Region, but these kinds of disruptive activities run counter to our objective of building the cooperation and goodwill necessary to further change on an extremely complex geopolitical issue...
...We believe the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project presents an opportunity for a dynamic cultural exchange and to chart a more inclusive and expansive view of art history. These efforts at real action will take time to become a reality on the ground. We understand that this endeavor comes with great responsibility and we believe strongly in the transformative potential of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi."
The full statement has been published on the Guggenheim's website.