After ten years in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open its doors this November, becoming the first universal museum in the Arab world.
Located on the Saadiyat Island at the Arabian Gulf's coastline, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum outside France that bears the name of the original Louvre museum in Paris, which opened in 1793, after the French Revolution.
Designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, the museum building itself is a true work of art. Having a certain liminal feel between land and water, it is covered by a silvery Arabian-style dome that measures 180 meters in diameter, crisscrossed with thousands of overlapping star shapes that create a shower of lights across the gallery spaces.
Inside, there is a collection of 23 permanent galleries across 6,400 square meters where a total of 600 works of art are on display during the inaugural weeks.
The ambition of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is to showcase the shared human stories across civilizations and cultures. Spanning millennia, the items on display will range from jewelry to statuary, medieval maps to opaque watercolors, drawing out the universal human experience of family divinity, commerce, exploration and death.
The dazzling building further highlights this general concept. As he explains, he wanted to create something that would be a meeting place for people, between people and works of art, and between the works of art themselves.
It is an architecture that is protective of its treasures, it is a homage to the Arab city, to its poetry in geometry and light, and, under the large cupola, it is an evocation of the temporalities which inexorably punctuate the hours, days, and the passing of our lives.
The historic opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi will be marked with four days of celebration. During this period, the museum will be alive with workshops, tours, music, international performances and a few surprises along the way.
The visitors will have an opportunity to see 600 works of art spanning 23 permanent galleries, half of which is on loan from 13 partner museums in France. Among the artwork highlights are Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait, Auguste Rodin's Jean d'Aire, the sculpture Apollo Belvedere by Primatice, Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black from 1922, René Magritte’s The Subjugated Reader from 1928, and Cy Twombly’s Untitled (I-IX) from 2008, among others.
Ancient masterpieces include a white marble Head of Buddha from China and a red Chinese lacquer chest of drawers produces in France by Bernard II van Risenburgh.
Rooted in universal human values, the Louvre Abu Dhabi represents the dynamic nature of contemporary Arab world, while celebrating region’s vibrant multicultural heritage. It will host four temporary exhibitions per year, following the same thematic approach as the permanent collections in the Museum Galleries.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will open on November 11th, 2017 at 10 a.m. with the Al Ayyala performance, one of the best known cultural traditions across the UAE. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Saturdays to Wednesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. After the opening weeks, the museum will be closed on Mondays.
Featured image: Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo Courtesy Mohamed Somji, via telegraph.co.uk.