One of the world’s most highly anticipated museums opens on 11 November. Musement shares 6 things you didn’t know about the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
After five years of delays, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open its doors to the public on 11 November. Arguably the world’s most anticipated museum opening, the Abu Dhabi museum will house the Middle East’s–and one of the world’s–most prestigious art collections.
2019 update: Time is closing in on the Roads of Arabia exhibit showcasing artifacts from Saudi Arabia which wraps on February 16. Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Dutch Golden Age kicks off on 14 February and concludes on 14 May. Curated by Tara Yeager-Crasselt of The Leiden Collection in New York and Blaise Ducos, chief curator of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch and Flemish paintings at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the exhibit will showcase works from the titular artists as well as Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Carel Fabritius and Gerrit Dou. Of the 95 artworks on display, 15 were signed by Rembrandt. If you’re in town, don’t miss it!
And without further ado, here are six things to know about the Louvre Abu Dhabi:
1. Iconic Design
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, located within 55 white buildings on Saadiyat Island, was designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. “I always wanted the place to be more of a neighborhood than a building, “ Nouvel told Art News. “I began with interconnected blocks of differing proportions inspired by white Arab cities – the medina.”
While the design as a whole is outstanding, the dome steals the show. Layers of 8,000 geometric stars comprise the 180-meter-diameter object, through which sunlight in the shape of stars pours to shine on the museum patrons. Weighing 7,500 tons, the dome is heavier than the Eiffel Tower!
2. A joint venture ten years in the making
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been in the works for ten years. This joint venture between the governments of the United Arab Emirates and France allows the UAE use the Louvre name for 30 years. More than 600 artworks will be on display, with 300 rotating works that are part of the four annual temporary exhibits. The latter will be organized by 13 French museum partners such as the Louvre, d’Orsay, Quai Branly, Rodin Museum, Versailles and more.
3. The Arab world’s first universal museum
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the Arab world’s first universal museum and is curated to recount the history of humanity, from the prehistoric eras until today through 600 artworks and artifacts from all over the world. The museum’s 23 galleries will be divided into the following 12 sequences that focus on the common themes and connection found throughout humanity: The First Villages; The First Great Powers; Civilizations and Empires; Universal Religions; Asian Trade Routes; From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic; The World in Perspective; The Magnificence of the Court; A New Art of Living; A Modern World?; Challenging Modernity and A Global Stage.
4. Outstanding artwork
Among the hundreds of the outstanding new artworks acquired by the curators, permanent works include Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of a Lady; René Magritte’s The Subjugated Reader; a sixteenth century large dish with lotus and saz leaves from Iznik, Turkey and an Iranian bracelet with lion heads dating back to eight to seventh century b.c. Additional standouts from the collection include the following:
- Hippopotamus, Egyptian (1850 BCE)
- Pair of Namban six-fold screens, early seventeenth century, Portuguese
- Vase with Lajvardina decoration, Iran, late twelfth to early fourteenth century
- Bindu by Syed Haider Raza, 1986
- Minai’i bowl, Kashan (Iran) 1170 – 1120 CE
- Bronze oba head from the Kingdom of Benin (currently Nigeria), first half of the nineteenth century
There is, however, plenty more where these came from!
5. Artworks by veritable masters will be on loan for the opening
As part of the said agreement with the 13 French museums, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open with some of the world’s finest masterpieces on display, including Leonardo da Vinci’s La belle ferronnière; Van Gogh’s Self Portrait and Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player both from the d’Orsay; Henri Matisse’s Still Life with Magnolia from the Pompidou Center and Rodin’s Baccus in the Vat from the artist’s namesake museum. These will all be alongside works on loan from Bibliotheque National, Quai Branley, Musee Giumet, National Archaeological Museum; Musee de Cluny; Fontainebleau, National Ceramics Museum- Sevres, Musee des Arts Decoratifs and Versailles.
6. Fun for the whole family!
The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Children’s Museum is a two-story facility with temporary exhibitions and workshops that are fun for families, and that introduce 6- to 12 year-olds to art world fundamentals. In addition, an auditorium with 271 seats will host theater, contemporary dance and live music performances as well as lectures and films. And of course, there is a restaurant on premises, too.