The Louvre Abu Dhabi has announced that they are to open their doors to the public in November, in the first Louvre-branded museum outside Paris. The permanent galleries will cover art and artifacts from the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations to the present day.
“At a time when culture is under attack… this is our joint response.”
It has taken over a decade in the making and is five years behind schedule but the project designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel will now open to the public. The museum will host 23 permanent galleries.
Works on loan to the gallery include Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnierefrom the Louvre and Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The “museum city” is reminiscent of an Arab medina, enveloped by a part arabesque, part futuristic silvery dome that lets in the light in patterns mimicking leaves of the palm trees of the Gulf.
The planned opening comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed on a 30-year partnership worth US$1.1 billion under which many top French museums will loan art to Abu Dhabi. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to attend the inauguration of the museum, which had originally been scheduled to open in 2012. The “complex, ambitious project”, in the words of museum director Manuel Rabate, has faced delays in funding and construction.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is part of “a major cultural strategy” to promote the city as a patron of the arts in a region increasingly focused on soft power. About 5 per cent of the overall museum will be dedicated to contemporary and modern art. The rest focuses on telling the story of world histories and religions. In the gallery of world religions, a sixth century Koran, a gothic Bible and a Yemeni Torah face each other, open to verses that give similar accounts. To send that message of tolerance is really important for our time.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is said to have cost funders over one billion euros, including 400 million euros to carry the Louvre name.