The world has waited with bated breath for an entire decade, and now the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi Universal Museum is getting ready to open its doors to the public. The Louvre is set to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status within the UAE, and also solidifies the UAE’s position in the world of art as a nation that truly appreciates art and culture. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the very first of its kind in the UAE – a universal museum that’s the result of a collaborative effort between Abu Dhabi and France. If you’re thinking that The Louvre Abu Dhabi is just a replication of the Louvre, Paris, then you are dead wrong. The name is indicative of the Arab-French collaboration, but no more than that.
Collaboration With the Louvre Paris
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of a thirty-year agreement between the French government and the city of Abu Dhabi. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The total area is approximately 260,000 square feet. The building’s cost is expected to be about 146 million USD. The government of Abu Dhabi had to pay USD 525 million to the French government in order to be associated with the Louvre Paris name. That apart, the government of Abu Dhabi will be shelling out an additional USD 747 million to various international museums in exchange for art loans, special exhibitions and management advice.
The French government approved the establishment of Abu Dhabi’s competing Louvre on 9 October 2007. Jean Nouvel was appointed as the main architect, who has been credited with the design of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. The idea is to obtain several permanent works of art for the Louvre Abu Dhabi over time, but to showcase artwork from around the world on loan in the meantime. Special focus will be placed to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art. The Paris Louvre has signed up its name to Abu Dhabi’s Louvre for a period of 30 years and 6 months. The Paris Louvre has also agreed to collaborate for temporary exhibitions for a period of 15 years, and loan its artworks for 10 years.
Abu Dhabi collaborated with the Louvre Paris, and by doing this, sealed a partnership with the world’s most popular and most visited museum. Not only this, but by choosing the Louvre Paris, Abu Dhabi has partnered with a museum that’s always believed in reaching out to the world and speak to the public via the annals of art. The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum has also partnered with the Paris Sorbonne University in order to establish a master’s program for museum professionals, so that they can be trained to respond to local art needs and art education.
Issues and objections
Many have questioned the motivations of the Louvre Paris with regard to this deal, saying that monetizing art on loan like this is tantamount to dishonoring art. For a long time, it seemed as though the Louvre Abu Dhabi project would just remain the government’s dream. The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum was announced in 2007 and a projected opening date was put forth but kept getting postponed due to a number of reasons. From 2012 to 2013 to 2015 and beyond, people have been waiting with bated breath to see the next grand achievement of the Middle East. Now, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has finally announced that yes, it will be opening its portals to the public and for real this time, in November 2011. We have crossed all the bridges now, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi will soon open its grand doors to the public’s restless anticipation.
Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Landmark – Saadiyat Island
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be a part of a US$27 billion cultural and tourism development for Saadiyat Island. The French Museums Agency is in collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which is behind Saadiyat Island’s transformation into a cultural destination.
Located in the Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the largest structure housing world-class cultural assets. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s glory will be further enhanced by the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Contemporary Arts Museum. The world’s largest Guggenheim museum in the Middle East is set to take people’s breaths away.
The Zayed National Museum is to be designed by United Kingdom-based architectural company Foster and Partners, ably directed by Lord Norman Foster. That apart, the Louvre will be good neighbors with a performing arts center designed by Zaha Hadid, and a maritime museum with concept design by Tadao Ando. Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District will also possess a number of arts pavilions for people to enjoy. On the whole, an Abu Dhabi Louvre tour will enhance one’s cultural appreciation, with spectacular art displays all around.
A Close Look At The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Design
The museum’s web-patterned dome allows the sun to filter through, bringing to mind the way sun light filters through date palm fronds in an oasis. The fantastic museum spans an area of 260,000 square feet. Of this, 65,000 square feet will be occupied by permanent works of art, and 22,000 square feet will be dedicated to temporary exhibitions. This means that visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum will be continually delighted with new temporary installations sourced from around the world.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Universal Museum encompasses a series of stunning white structures that are meant to reflect an Arabian city. An amazing spectacle on water, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the most significant element of the vibrant Saadiyat Cultural District. Designed by the award-winning French architect, Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi uses designs from the Middle East’s ancient construction techniques. These include interweaved palm leaves used for the roofing, and the traditional Falaj water system.
The intricate, multi-layered lace dome is cladded with millions of stars, creating beautiful perforations through which sunrays pour in, creating a lovely contrast of light and shade. If you can tear your eyes away from this mesmerizing sight, you’ll notice how the museum’s promenades overlook the sea. The entire structure is an impressive work of art over the water, and a joy to look at while crossing over to Saadiyat Island.
The $650 million Louvre Abu Dhabi has 65,000 square feet of permanent installations. Other than these, there are many art installations and paintings that are mainly on loan from legendary museums such as Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou and Musée du Louvre, Paris. All the exhibits are presented chronologically, through four distinct periods:
2. The Birth of Islam
3. The Classical Age
4. The Modern Era
There is a dedicated section for kids, where a plethora of art installations and paintings by famous artists are displayed to titillate youthful imaginations. That apart, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has about 20000 square feet of space set aside for temporary exhibitions.
The Story Of How The Louvre Abu Dhabi Came About
Abu Dhabi’s government held a series of exhibitions on Saadiyat Island even as the Louvre Abu Dhabi was being constructed. The idea was to get people used to seeing great works of art displayed in Abu Dhabi, and to anticipate the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi with enthusiasm.
• First Exhibition: Construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi began officially on 26 May 2009, after an exhibition titled ‘Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi’ took place at the Gallery One of the Emirates Palace Hotel. This exhibition was inaugurated by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. 19 fabulous works of art were taken on loan from international museums including French museums, and bought over to Louvre Abu Dhabi over a period of 18 months. The exhibition included a Mamluk holy Koran from the 14th century, a Virgin and Child by Bellini, a 5th-century Fibula from Domagnano, and a blue, red, yellow and black Mondrian’s Composition sourced from 1922.
• Second Exhibition: The second exhibition, Birth of a Museum, was held at the Manarat Al Saadiyat’s exhibition space in from May to August 2013. This exhibition featured 130 works acquired by Abu Dhabi’s government for the permanent collection that would be displayed once the Louvre Abu Dhabi was open. The collection included a Bronze Age terracotta statue from Cyprus, never-before seen work by Picasso, and plenty of ancient artifacts from Greece, Turkey, Japan and Syria.
• Third Exhibition: The second Birth of a Museum exhibition took place in May 2014. This was the third exhibition held in Abu Dhabi. The exhibition featured a number of new acquisitions by the Paris Louvre. One of them was Chirisei Kyubiki by the Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga, painted in 1960. This exhibition showcased a vast spectrum of objects depicting both modern and ancient in contemporary artistic expressions.
After the exhibition gleaned its expected oohs and aahs from the general public, the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi began in public. People now knew what of expect of the new building coming up at the venue, and the world started looking forward to a magnificent feast of art in the near future, Dubai-style.
The Design And Architecture Of The Magnificent Louvre Abu Dhabi
• Way-finding System: The Louvre Abu Dhabi has a three-languages way-finding system to help people locate their desired works of art. This amazing system was designed by Philippe Apeloig and is implemented in both Arabic and Roman script. Perfect readability has been ensured by using the very readable Frutiger LT typeface for the Roman texts. The bespoke Arabic typeface was created by Lebanese typographer Kristyan Sarkis.
• The Pictograms: The museum’s own abstract architecture inspired the design of the pictograms. The juxtaposition of light and shadow that filter in from the dome’s star-shaped openings create the illusion of rain. This rain of light has been used in image form within each pictogram, which is a combination of several abstract shapes born of this concept, creating silhouettes and objects.
Displays The Public Can Enjoy At The Louvre Abu Dhabi
A firm commitment has been issued by the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s director and the TCA chairman that on November 11th 2017, the museum will open its doors to the public, with almost 700 incredible exhibits on display. Half of these artworks are part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection, while the other half are on loan from 13 major French cultural institutions. These include the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. People are looking forward with bated breath to see Monet’s La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait, and the enigmatic La Belle Ferronniére by Leonardo da Vinci. La Belle Ferronniére will be the very first painting by da Vinci to leave Europe and be exhibited in the Middle East.
That apart, the Abu Dhabi Louvre will display a number of artworks and art installations ranging from the ancient to the modern. A 3rd millennium B.C Bactrian princess created in Central Asia, an Ottoman turban helmet, Paul Gauguin’s 1888 painting ‘Children Wrestling’, and an enormous art installation by Ai Weiwei in 1957 will be among the first to be displayed in the brand-new Louvre. Three engraved stone walls created by the American artist Jenny Holzer will take the place of pride among the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s site-specific outdoor works.
On December 21st, 2017, a special inaugural exhibition titled, ‘From One Louvre to Another,’ is all set to stun visitors. This exhibition takes a good look at the history of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, giving people an insight into the Versailles royal collections under King Louis XIV all the way to the creation of the modern Paris Louvre museum.
Manuel Rabaté described the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a ‘gift to the world’ which will open the world’s eyes to a new perspective. A visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi will bring people face-to-face with incredible masterpieces from all historical periods and from around the world – masterpieces never seen outside of Europe before. The magnificent building beautifully complements the incredible artworks it holds, making a visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi the highlight of any art lover’s life.