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Shelley’s Art Musings: Louvre Abu Dhabi: When Worlds Collide

When you think of the Louvre, the mind instantly goes to the iconic glass pyramid which we are all so familiar with, located in the centre of Paris.  Housing some of the world’s greatest art works, it is the world’s largest art museum.  In 2007, the creation of a second Louvre was announced. From then on, it has been eagerly watched as the project emerges.

Ten years after the announcement and after several delays, the exciting news of the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has arrived.  The name “Louvre”, which is being ‘rented’ for a 30-year period for this museum, costs around £399 million to do so.

On November 8, 2017, The French President Emmanuel Macron joined Arab leaders in inaugurating the new museum. According to some sources, the museum will  open to the public on November, 11.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been inaugurated and will open to the public on November, 11

The construction of this impressive piece of architecture costs over £1 billion and was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel.  The structure is an effortless floating dome, which looks like a honeycomb of stainless steel and aluminum, filtering light in to the museum and giving the feeling of being under a palm tree or the natural roof of a souk.  The museum is open on all sides and brilliant white, allowing the filtered light to create an art work in itself.  The building is a dramatic change to the sky scrapers which dominate the skyline and give the air of something special.  Within the museum, the galleries are laid out like streets, which a sea breeze funnelling through the corridors.

Design for the Louvre Abu Dhabi by architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel
The filtered light is creating an art work in itself

The museum, which has loaned 300 art works from France at the cost of around £571 million, will give a brief history to mankind and religion. There are in total 620 pieces and artefacts on display, ranging from Degas, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso. The works on show are some of the best, which will be showcased in 20 galleries, forming 12 chapters, sharing the ideas about interconnectedness and culture. Among the many highlights is Leonardo’s wonderful portrait of an unknown lady – La Belle Ferronniere, Whistler’s depiction of his mother, David’s heroic equestrian portrait of Napoleon, a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century BC, a Bronze Oba head from the Benin Kingdom, a 15thcentury Islamic “Turban” helmet and four Romanesque columns with carved capitals from a church in southern France.

Some of the artworks you will be able to see at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The installations and art works will change over time. This has been a work of union between France and the Arab state, signing many agreements to present a ‘universal’ museum. While the museum builds its own base of permanent fixtures, the loaning of artwork will continue.

I find it particularly impressive that the museum has put any thoughts about religious beliefs to one side, showing artefacts from world religions side by side.  Exhibiting a Jewish funeral stele next to a Muslim’s funeral steel and a Christian’s archbishop’s stone epitaph is a true statement of how art can impact the world and bring cultures together.

The Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture, Mohammad Al Mubarak made the statement while addressing the press: “Louvre Abu Dhabi is not just a museum; it will be a hub for education, broadcasting international tolerance and world culture. And future generations will be better because of places like the Louvre Abu Dhabi.”

“Louvre Abu Dhabi is not just a museum; it will be a hub for education, broadcasting international tolerance and world culture.”

The exhibition “From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone” will open on  December, 21, 2017. The show will explore the opening of the Musée du Louvre in Paris in the 18th century, through 150 paintings, sculptures and other artworks from the collections of Musée du Louvre and the Château de Versailles.

The first show at the Children’s Museum, titled Travelling Shapes and Colours, will see examples of floral and geometric ornamentation exhibited through Turkish ceramics, 18th-century decorative French vases and a 19th century painting by German artist Paul Klee.

If you want to find out more about the museum or stay updated with events, you can find the website here.

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