Wait, what?! There is a Louvre in Abu Dhabi? You bet!
Almost thirty years ago, a pathbreaking deal between the French government and the Abu Dhabi city agreed to set up a one-of-a-kind “universal museum in the Arab world.” Additionally, a cultural city called Saadiyat Island was envisaged that was to house not only the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but also Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and a performing arts centre by Zada Hadid.
Despite the fact that such an ambitious plan did not pan out as imagined, the Abu Dhabi Department of Cultural and Tourism has finally managed to schedule the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi on 11 November, 2017.
“The priority is to invest heavily in education and culture,” said Zaki Nusseibeh, Abu Dhabi’s state minister, in an interview with the New York Times.
“This has become more important because of what happened with the radicalisation of groups that have kidnapped Islam for their own political purposes. It is against everything that this country stands for.”
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum looks like a seemingly floating structure located on Dubai's Sadiyat Island. It is spread over a whopping 24,000 square metres and includes 55 white buildings that are meant to resemble conventional Arabic medinas.
The 180 metre-wide (diameter) web-patterned dome is by far the most visually appealing element of the museum, and resembles inter-woven palm leaves. It covers nearly two-thirds of the museum.
With the construction costs alone estimated at over 100 million euros, the Louvre Abu Dhabi project has have been a considerably expensive affair.
“I wanted to create a neighbourhood of art, rather than a building,” said Nouvel, who has managed to successfully bridge the gap between cultures by incorporating different architectural elements within the museum.
The museum houses 600 artworks from all over the world, including 300 pieces that have been loaned by 13 French museums as per the agreement. Van Gogh, Monet, Jackson Pollock, Paul Gauguin and Cy Twombly are some of the artists whose original works are currently on display at the museum.
In addition, the museum houses rare artworks including a sixth century Buddha from Northern China, Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child dating to the fifteenth century, a Gothic bible, a leaf from the sixth century Quaran, and a Yemeni Torah.
Here are a few photos from the soon-to-be-opened museum.