Peek into the Louvre Abu Dhabi ahead of its grand opening | Arts | DW | 09.11.2017
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Peek into the Louvre Abu Dhabi ahead of its grand opening

Over 10 years in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the offshoot of the famous Paris art museum in the United Arab Emirates, claims to be the first truly global collection in the Arab world. Discover some highlights here.

The museum's original scheduled opening date was set for 2012, but it was delayed multiple years due to construction issues. The Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open its doors to the public for the first time on November 11, 2017. 

 Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife (Reuters/S. Kumar)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan welcomes Emmanuel Macron and his wife at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron dedicated a part of his state visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to inaugurate the new branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi.

Macron praised the aesthetics of the structure, saying that architect Jean Nouvel "has created a temple of beauty." He also added that Abu Dhabi is at the center of the regional tensions whose conflicts have been affecting the entire world. He expressed hope that the beauty of art would create a bridge between continents, quoting the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Beauty will save the world."

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, was also astonished by the museum, saying that the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the cultural pride of the nation. "It will bring together East and West, demonstrating our ability to fight the dark with light," he said.

Read more: Controversial anti-war monument on show in Berlin

The art of human rights

The construction of the museum was not without controversies, however, with many criticizing the working conditions. Workers reported low wages and having their passports taken. In addition, two workers died on site.

The French side underlined that conditions of the collaboration were clear in such matters and that proper standards of working conditions were observed. 

Elaborate design

French architect Jean Nouvel drew on the Emirati kingdom's nature environment in his building design. The modernist museum sits under a honeycombed dome of eight layers of Arab-style geometric shapes. The reflections created by these shapes recall translucent palm fronds.

At 7,500 tons, the dome alone weighs more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris (7,300 tons).

Read more: Louvre pyramid architect I. M. Pei turns 100

The dome houses 55 buildings, with a permanent gallery space covering 6,400 square meters (68,890 square feet). The museum displays 620 artworks and artifacts, 235 of which are loaned from other institutions. 

The permanent exhibition aims to tell the world's "universal narrative" in 12 "gallery chapters." Abu Dhabi's conservatism can be noticed in the relative absence of pieces depicting nudity. Still, the museum's brief history of the world sets major religions side by side, without shying away from Judaism. 


cmb/eg/jt (AP, dpa)

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