Louvre Abu Dhabi to open a new era for the UAE

Louvre Abu Dhabi to open a new era for the UAE
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will open on November 11, 2017. - Photo by Ryan Lim

Abu Dhabi - More than 600 artworks will span the human existence, from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE right through to the contemporary era

By Jasmine Al Kuttab, Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 7 Sep 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 7 Sep 2017, 7:32 PM

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the new Louvre museum which the UAE and French government officials say will attract millions of visitors in the nation's Capital, is finally set to open to the public on November 11, on the shores of Saadiyat Island.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which stands on both land and water and took ten years in the making, wll mark a departure from traditional museography. - Photo by Ryan Lim
The landmark museum, with its iconic heritage, took ten years to come to life and will enlighten minds through exhibits of art, culture, history and knowledge.
Currently in its final phase, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will mark a departure from traditional museography, which often classifies displays according to origin.
More than 600 artworks will span the entirety of human existence, from the end of the third millennium BCE to the Medieval Era, the Renaissance and the Neoclassical period, right through to the contemporary era, thus highlighting connectivity and universal themes.

Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director of the Louvre museum, speaks at the opening announcement.-Photo by Ryan Lim
During the opening announcement ceremony, held on Wednesday at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said millions of people from around the world are expected to visit the museum. "Just as the Louvre is the crown jewel of Paris - the Louvre Abu Dhabi is destined for such distinction in the UAE and in this part of the world."
Sheikh Nahyan pointed out that the agreement to open the Louvre Abu Dhabi, initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces more than ten years ago, is a scientific and economic partnership between the UAE and France.

Inside the museum, the multi-layered geometric dome of eight superimposed layers creates a dramatic play of light and shadow.-Photo by Ryan Lim
He said that Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize-winning French architect who designed the museum, wanted the Abu Dhabi museum to mirror the Arab world. "Surely, he has succeeded. The magnificent building itself is a work of art, creation and innovation which will invite the global population."
Just as the UAE represents a diversity of cultures, religions, nationalities and most importantly, the unification of people from all walks of life, so too will the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Nahyan recalled Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's quote on how the UAE has become a global cultural hub; thus, the museum will serve as a cradle for art and culture: "The UAE serves as a role model for coexistence among different cultures represented by the millions who live and work here."
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), told Khaleej Times that the museum will inspire more Emiratis to enter the art world. "More than 60 per cent of the employees are Emiratis and this number will grow."
World culture and heritage are fundamental elements of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, he noted. "This is extremely important in our time and every single visitor will feel a connection to this museum.
"We hope it will enhance every youthful mind that enters this museum, and tolerance and acceptance in every person, making us better human beings."
Françoise Nyssen, the French Minister of Culture, said the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is certainly a milestone in bilateral relations between the two countries. "This museum is one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the world."
She pointed out that loans of art from the top 13 French museums and institutions steered by the Agence France-Muséums, have been put into creating what may become the world's new art hub.
"The Louvre Abu Dhabi carries a message of tolerance and peace, stressing the unwavering commitment of our two countries in promoting culture and education as a shield against extremism."
Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, highlighted that the museum will go down in history. "With a unique global narrative and a vision to explore the history of art in a fresh context, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a place where visitors can come to understand their own and others' cultures."
Timeline: Louvre Abu Dhabi
. March 6, 2007: UAE and France sign a deal to build Louvre Abu Dhabi museum
. October 10, 2007: The French National Assembly approves the project
. May 26, 2009: Construction works officially starts
. August 3, 2010: Piling works completed
. October 29, 2011: TDIC announces delay in project completion
. January 25, 2012: New deadline set as 2015
. January 8, 2013: TDIC awards museum's main construction contract to Arabtec-led joint venture with Constructora San Jose and Oger Abu Dhabi
. December 5, 2013: The first element of the museum's canopy lifted into place
. March 17, 2014: First permanent gallery structure completed
. October 22, 2014: Museum's dome structure installation gets completed
. June 15, 2016: Temporary sea protection walls removed
. December 3, 2016: French President Francois Hollande reviews work progress
. September 6, 2017: Museum opening date announced
> Dh60 for general admission
> Dh30 (13 to 22 years) and UAE education professionals
> For members of the museum's loyalty programme, children under 13 years, ICOM or ICOMOS member
Charting the Louvre
> 7,850 - 'Stars' form the dome's eight layers
> 85 - Super-sized elements compose the dome
> 7,500 tonnes - Total weight of the dome
> 97,000 sq m - Built-up area
The story of all humanity will unfold here
In February 2006, a high-powered delegation from France, led by the culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, arrived in the UAE. The group, which also included senior officials from the French national museums and advisors, had flown here to set out a framework for the creation of a world class museum in Abu Dhabi - the Louvre Abu Dhabi, with the support and guidance of one the world's most famous institutions.
The proposed location was a sandy island called Saadiyat, "the island of happiness", the northern tip of which lay just a few hundred metres from the Abu Dhabi port.
The museum also marks great change for the Arab world and beyond. In an age threatened by conflict and intolerance, it was conceived as a celebration of the region's common heritage and values; a bridge between the East and the West.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a new cultural beacon, bringing different cultures together to shine fresh light on humanity's shared stories. Inspired by the architecture and traditions of the UAE, international architect Jean Nouvel designed a remarkable home for Louvre Abu Dhabi. Nouvel has subordinated concrete and steel, glass and stone, and even the Gulf's corrosive waters, to the deft control of the gentle play of light in the Louvre Abu Dhabi building.
The museum's displays consist of more than 600 artworks. Ranging from prehistorical objects to contemporary pieces, the works will be exhibited alongside approximately 300 items currently on loan from 13 French institutions for the next 10 years.
Paris's original Louvre has agreed to loan its name to the new Abu Dhabi museum for the next 30 years and six months.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi's museum galleries tell the story of the human race in 12 inspiring chapters. Each focuses on shared themes and ideas that reveal common connections throughout humanity. The art on show comes from the museum's collection alongside many masterpieces on loan from some of the most famous French museums.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will host four temporary exhibitions per year. As part of the unique collaboration between Abu Dhabi and France. These temporary exhibitions will follow the same thematic approach as the permanent collections in the museum galleries.
The man behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi
The recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize and mastermind behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi, who has created what is set to be the Middle East's most visited museum, has designed the iconic monument on both land and sea, embodying harmony, calmness and contemplation.
Jean Nouvel told Khaleej Times about the inspiration behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which features his signature style in the the magnificent play of light that naturally illuminates the museum. "I researched and researched a lot. Architecture is an art, you have to have the motivation to assemble what will be a gift of a lifetime, because a building like this is not here for a few years but centuries. Thus, you want to create the best."
"I tried to imagine something that links to the UAE; I tried to create a micro-climate with the cupola and a neighbourhood underneath - all in one building - and tried to imagine the play of light and shadow." The rain of light will not be missed by visitors, as it will reach just about every corner of the museum.
He said the museum, which took almost 10 years to complete, has become part of himself, and will remain close to his heart. "A museum like this with holds the dialogue of cilvilisations is very important for Abu Dhabi. It's also a symbolic part of the cultural district it's located in, set to become a destination it itself."
The new Louvre is crucial not only for the UAE's future, but the world's as well.
Among Nouvel's principal buildings are the Arab World Institute, the Cartier Foundation and the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, the Lucerne Cultural and Congress Center, the extension of the Queen Sophia Museum in Madrid, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Philharmonic Concert Halls in Copenhagen and Paris.

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