The exhibition is open from 22 April until 20 July at Manarat Al Saadiyat, the art exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island.
Works include ancient artifacts from all over the world – including Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Mali - showcasing the breadth of great civilisations and illustrating links arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.
Key historical moments are encapsulated through works such as: Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey’s Ayoucha from 1843 Cairo (depicting the oldest known photograph of a veiled woman); a tile of arabesque patterns from the Ottoman Empire (c. 1570); and a silk painting from Japan’s late seventeenth century, together with a delicate section of pages from the Holy Qur’an and Suras, believed to be from Syria’s late thirteenth century.
Paintings by Paul Gauguin (Children Wrestling, 1888) and Rene Magritte (The Subjugated Reader, 1928) are in dialogue with works by Giovanni Bellini and ?douard Manet, as well as contemporary art works by Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Yves Klein and Cy Twombly. All works and artists have been carefully chosen to present a singular and original reading of the history of art, built around several key artistic and aesthetic questions core to the identity of the new museum, designed by Jean Nouvel. Louvre Abu Dhabi and its collection are owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, spoke about: “We reflect on what has been achieved over the last few years in establishing the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Birth of a Museum echoes Abu Dhabi’s historical and geographical position and we hope this growing universal collection continues bridging civilisations, celebrating diversity and connecting cultures.”
Henri Loyrette, President of the Scientific Council of Agence France Museums (AFM) and former President-Director of the Musee du Louvre, said: “This exhibition is a major milestone in the realisation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi so far as it unveils the admirable and high quality of the art works that will reflect the heart of the future Museum’s permanent collection. Moreover, this exhibition will embody remarkably the essence of the forthcoming birth of this universal museum.”
Jean-Luc Martinez, the newly appointed President-Director of the Louvre, has decided to conduct his first international visit in Abu Dhabi. This visit will be emblematic of his significant commitment to the project, which constitutes one of the top priorities of his upcoming mandate and policy.
A book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date is published and will be launched in parallel with the exhibition. This book also tells the story of the creation of the institution and the way in which a collection of exceptional quality is assembled for a museum that will mark the twenty-first century.
Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority commented the exhibition saying: “Birth of a Museum will translate the commitment of Abu Dhabi to create a museum collection that will reflect the cultural ambitions of the our city and its leaders.”
As with all exhibitions organised in preparation for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, Birth of a Museum will be supported by a diverse cultural programme of talks, tours and workshops. The first talk, taking place on 22 April at Manarat Al Saadiyat, is entitled Louvre Abu Dhabi, a Museum in the Making.
The event features Hissa Al Dhaheri, Project Manager of Louvre Abu Dhabi, TCA Abu Dhabi and Laurence des Cars, Curatorial Director of the Agence France-Museums (AFM), who will explore what makes Louvre Abu Dhabi unique. Two later events in May and June form part of the second Louvre Talking Art Series.
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