By Emily Goddard

The Smithsonian is hoping to opening an exhibition space on the London 2012 Olympic Park ©Getty ImagesThe Smithsonian is in talks about the opening of an exhibition space in the new cultural complex that is being developed on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. 

The American museum organisation is looking to become part of the 40,000-square-foot Olympicopolis, which is expected to open in 2021, and if a deal is reached with the London Legacy Development Corporation it would mark the first time a Smithsonian exhibition has taken place outside of the United States in its 168-year history.

London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Legacy Company have already secured $50 million (£33 million/€44 million) to build the facility and to bring Smithsonian exhibits to the English capital.

"It is a huge honour for London to be considered as the first location for the Smithsonian outside of the US," Johnson said.

"Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is set to be home to a dynamic new world-class cultural quarter.

"We believe it is the perfect location for the Smithsonian, a unique and pioneering institution founded on the philanthropy of British-born James Smithson, in a move that would strengthen further still the links between our great nations."

The Smithsonian runs 19 museums and galleries in and around Washington dedicated to art, science and American history, as well as the national zoo, which collectively attract about 30 million visitors a year.

The Smithsonian runs 19 world famous museums and galleries in and around Washington ©Getty ImagesThe Smithsonian runs 19 world famous museums and galleries in and around Washington ©Getty Images

Other partners in the Olympicopolis project are the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler's Wells Theatre, University College London East and the University of the Arts London, and the facility is expected to attract some 1.5 million visitors a year.

"We see this as an unprecedented opportunity to show the breadth of the Smithsonian in one of the most diverse cities in the world," Smithsonian's acting secretary Al Horvath said.

"An exhibition space in London will enable us to share the Smithsonian with an international audience in a way we haven't been able to before."

Negotiations over the terms of the Smithsonian's lease will now get underway immediately.

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