The universal museum Louvre Abu Dhabi

26 November 2017
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If you are a fan of museums, art and history then you must add visiting the brand-new Louvre Abu Dhabi to your bucket list. Join the excitement of the first ever western museum dedicated to art and civilization in the Arab world. Let me give you a description of the project, its origins, the positive and negative aspects and a brief description of this exciting new place.  

The Louvre Abu Dhabi was created as a way for the UAE to become a cultural destination. The project aims to make the country internationally known for its culture, education and art as it develops into a “post-oil age.” How on earth did they manage to open such a breathtaking museum? The answer as we all know is: with the help of the French! The authorities reached out to French experts and created a partnership to fill up the museum’s galleries. The museum will carry the same name as the Musee du Louvre for 30 years and have 300 loans for its exhibitions. Obviously the french iconic museum is now a brand! The loans are made mainly by the Louvre, but there are 13 other French museums including Versailles, Pompidou and Musee d’Orsay who will also contribute to enrich the exhibitions at Abu Dhabi.

It is listed as a universal museum because it contains exhibitions with a vast content from different time periods and different cultures and civilizations. The architect Jean Nouvel who has been involved in the creation of museums like the Quai Branly in Paris, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, and the extension to MoMA in New York has expressed that he has no definitive style.“I take my inspiration from the locality. Here, I looked at the way that light filters through the roof of a souk or the leaves of a palm tree.”

What kind of art to expect? Anything on world’s civilizations. The loans are very rich and will change over time as they will be returned to France to be replaced with pieces as important and just as transcendent. You will find pieces such as Leonardo’s portrait of an unknown lady – La Belle Ferronnière, Whistler’s depiction of his mother, David’s portrait of Napoleon, a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century BC, a Bronze Oba head from the Benin Kingdom, a 15th-century Islamic “Turban” helmet and four Romanesque columns with carved capitals from a church in southern France.

As for problems this ambitious project might present are cited as, “risky in political terms both in France and in the UAE, required considerable creativity, significant investments, daring reconciliations between distant worlds that nobody imagined a few years earlier.” But contrary to this belief, the French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen defended it by claiming that, “at a time when culture is under attack … this is our joint response.” Which was also another way to quiet down the critics who claimed that this project was a way for France “selling its soul.” 
The museum was a decade “in the making” and it opened five years late (it was originally programed to open in 2012). Its opening was around ten years after France and the UAE agreed a 30-year partnership worth around USD 1 billion. The French President, Emmanuel Macron attended the official launch which was November 11. It was described as a “complex, ambitious project” by the museum director, Manuel Rabate who justified the delay because of funding and construction.

As a museum lover I will for sure find a way to travel to the UAE and go into the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It is true that as we live in a tense period, there is nothing more rewarding than having a place as the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This new landmark celebrates the world’s history, its different time periods and its different civilizations. And the way it was born was with the conjoined work of two different countries who aim to deepen the culture and education of the tourists and its local population.

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