The making of Louvre Abu Dhabi
France and UAE signed a pact on 6th March 2007 to create a universal museum, named Louvre Abu Dhabi, due for opening in the year 2014. This venture also laid the foundation for a new type of cultural collaboration between the two sovereign nations, meeting mutual needs and aspirations.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum coming up on the Saadiyat Island Complex in Abu Dhabi, which forms a part of the thirty year deal signed between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government.
Spanning 24,000 square meters in size, the construction of the museum had undergone some controversies in the art world, as there were initial objections about motives of the Louvre in this deal.
With this deal, the renowned Louvre Museum in Paris, France, will have a duplicate home in the UAE. The Louvre has been in France since the late 12th century, and is one of the most important museums in France. The Museum is home to some of the most prestigious works of art like Leonardo da Vince’s Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child, Madonna of the Roack and Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo.
This much-awaited deal of Louvre Museum being opened in Abu Dhabi has created a huge buzz in the UAE. Artworks from across the world will be showcased at the museum, with particular focus being laid on bridging the gap between Eastern and Western art.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum also represents enormous cultural undertaking for both nations. Speaking about the Museum in Abu Dhabi, the President, H.H. Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, mentioned that such massive cultural projects are being planned, with an aim to preserve the heritage and history of the country, and also to narrow down the gap between world cultures.
On the whole, this Museum deal between France and the UAE, will bestow Abu Dhabi with an international museum, placing it among the great cultural nations, and the great museums across the world.
As for France, this deal emphasizes the excellence of its museum expertise and know-how through design of a unique institution, while also opening up a cross-section of French public collections, in a new light, to a new set of audience.
A new museum, bearing the name ‘Louvre’, is a major event for Louvre. The Louvre Abu Dhabi will not be a copy of Louvre in Paris, but, a new museum, which as its name suggests, may transmit values of French museums. By making the museum a focus of its cultural development, the Abu Dhabi highlights the museum institution’s capacity for invention and renewal.
The permanent and unique exchange between the East and West, established by Louvre Abu Dhabi, will eventually help this new cultural institution to secure a place on the international museum scene.
Further, the creation of other museums in Abu Dhabi including Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Museum, and universities in Abu Dhabi, in connection with Paris IV, will establish the emirate as the right place to visit, for education and culture in this part of the world.
This thirty year deal signed France and UAE, has prompted construction of the Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island, in exchange for Dh.4.78bn. The contract prohibits creation of similar operation with name of Louvre in any other emirates of the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt and Iraq. As per the contract, the French Museums Agency will operate together with Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which is behind transformation of Saadiyat Island.
By choosing to build Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, the emirate not only sealed a partnership with one of the world’s most-visited and renowned museum, but, also chose one, which, from its inception, had a vocation to reach out to the world, and to the essence of mankind, through the reflection of works of art.
The Museum creator, Jean Nouvel, has described the fine arts museum as island on an island. The museum city of Louvre Abu Dhabi, will be housed within a building, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect, Jean Nouvel. The geometric lace dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi draws inspiration from the interlaced palm leaves, traditionally used as roofing material, resulting in an enchanting rain of light.
The complex pattern of the roof is the result of the same geometric design, repeated at various sizes and angles, in ten different layers, five external and five internal. While it looks delicate and lacy, the dome is heavy, and is the size of five football pitches. Within the vast floating dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi, is a new world, wherein the light patterns light up a micro-city of small galleries, landscaping and lakes.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum to be born into the Arab World. It will display art, manuscripts, objects of cultural, historical and sociological significance, with items displayed originating from societies and cultures across the world. Emphasis will be on including universal themes and common influences to illustrate similarities arising out of shared human experience.
The central display will further be complemented by a complete programme of temporary exhibitions. Additionally, a Louvre Abu Dhabi Children’s Museum will ensure that even the youngest visitors can explore and discover the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection in full.
The values and identity of Louvre Abu Dhabi are based on discovery, exchange and education. Being the first universal museum outside the Western world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will unveil on Arab soil a cultural institution born in Europe.
The scientific and cultural project of Louvre Abu Dhabi, translates into an original museographic form. It will be a fine arts museum, with purpose and scope of the museum being universal, wherein drawings, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, archaeological findings, decorative arts, created and collected across the world. The museum will be particularly designed for 21st century, dedicated to people living or visiting the emirates. The galleries will display art from various civilizations, cultures and eras, crossing boundaries and geographic barriers.
Education Role of the Museum
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has a major educational role too. It will remain true to the educational missions of the Louvre and the French museums that were during the heart of creation in 1793, and renewed to this day. Being involved in the Ecole due Louvre project, and being a shareholder of Agence France-Museums and Institut national du patrimoine, it offers an opportunity to conceive training programs for future museum employees, combining theoretical teaching and work placements in French Museums.
The work placements will help in establishing strong and long-lasting ties between French professionals and their future Emirati colleagues. In fact, a ‘Masters in Museum Studies’ program has been launched in Abu Dhabi in November 2010, wherein, the Ecole du Louvre and the Universite Paris IV Sorbonne, have teamed up for the first time. The courses are rendered by university professors and museum professionals in French, Arabic and English, enabling students, several of whom are from Emirates, to obtain internally recognized diploma from the two institutions, aimed at students who wish to take their career in this direction.
Further, Louvre Abu Dhabi will be a privileged location for research in archaeology and art history, thereby a welcome for researchers and scientists.