Abu Dhabi readies for the grand opening of its Louvre

CultureUnited Arab Emirates

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Abu Dhabi's very own Louvre is set to open its doors this coming Saturday (November 11th). The opening will see the culmination of years of work since the French-UAE deal to "develop a new kind of cultural institution" was finalized in 2007. The occasion will be marked with four days of workshops, tours, music, international performances, and "a few surprises."

Abu Dhabi is set to exhibit art from around the world

Abu Dhabi is set to exhibit art from around the world
Prochasson Frederic/123RF

President Macron will make his first official visit to the country to attend the museum's inauguration, ushering in plans for 13 of France's top museums to lend works to the UAE for a maximum of two years each. Around 300 pieces are on loan in total, including a self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere." The United Arab Emirates also boasts its own collection steadily built up over the years.

The museum's official website claims that it will combine ?The UAE's bold vision of cultural progression and openness with France's expertise in the world of art and museums.?

The museum's galleries will not to be organized according to geographical location. Instead, they'll be arranged in chronological order, putting an emphasis on the shifts in human civilization and perspective.

Visitors will embark on a journey from Ancient Egyptian depictions of Anubis, all the way through human history to Ai Wei Wei's Fountain of Light. With a keen focus on world history and religion, exhibits also include a sixth century Koran, gothic Bible and Yemeni Torah, all facing towards each other.

Jack Lang, who was France's culture minister when the Parisian Louvre received its controversial pyramid, attested to the diversity of the project, stating that the Abu Dhabi museum would be "much more universal than the Louvre in Paris". The French-Emirate partnership was agreed to continue 30 years as of 2007, and was reported to be worth $1.1 billion.

The museum itself, drawn up by a French architect Jean Nouvel, is designed to mirror the image of an Arab medina. A silver-toned dome with perforated arabesque patterns appears to float over the white museum galleries, creating what Nouvel describes as a "rain of light".

The effect of shadows cast by palm trees, or the roof of a traditional Arab market, is said to be created by shifting light that passes through a number of arabesque perforations before reaching the galleries.

This is part of a series of wider initiatives to introduce western universities and art galleries pushed by Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. He has encouraged young women out of domestic seclusion and into military service, and his country has been a leader in the Arab world in terms of relaxing religious and social restrictions.

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Chris Sargent
Posted on 06/11/2017
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