Grand Opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi
Following a decade of delayed construction and scandal over the working conditions of its laborers, the stunning and much anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi Nouvel, finally opened its doors to a long-waiting line while tickets sold-out weeks in advance. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the 97,000 square meter museum area houses artwork from ancient times to the present and boasts a unique Bactrian princess sculpture from Central Asia, a 9th-century Quran in Kufic script, and the “Madonna and Child” by Giovanni Bellini, a lesser known Renaissance artist. Louvre Abu Dhabi came to life with a $1 billion loan from France, the Louvre name, to the United Arab Emirates as part of a deal with Agence France-Museums.
The agreement with France includes borrowing masterpieces from 13 French institutions such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronniere,” one of only 15 known paintings by the artist, as well as an 1887 Van Gogh self-portrait, “The Saint-Lazare Station” by Claude Monet and various work by Rodin.
Curator Jean-Luc Martinez
The Louvre Abu Dhabi curator Jean-Luc Martinez said to the press that,” the Louvre Abu Dhabi is not a branch of the Louvre. Nor is it even French.”
‘It is not for the Louvre or, indeed, for France,’ he says. ‘It is a new museum for Abu Dhabi. The Museum is from this country, by this country. We are working for current and future generations here in the UAE. That is its heart. Bon!’
It is true that the Louvre in Paris and other French institutions, including the Musée d’Orsay and Centre Pompidou, have supplied all of half od the displayed artwork on revolving annual loans, including works by da Vinci, Manet, Matisse, and Monet, eventually the number of loans will phase out, so that the museum becomes the near-total preserve of the UAE, in the hope of creating the first museum in the Middle East that uses art and other artefacts ‘to tell the story of humanity from its earliest days to the present time with work arranged chronologically and not by regions. We want to show that every culture in the world can be presented together, working in the same direction.’
Jean Nouvel Architect
“I wanted to create a neighborhood of art, rather than a building,” said Jean Nouvel in a press statement. “It is conceived as something between an Arab medina and a Greek agora – a place to meet and talk about art and life in a context of total serenity. A double dome 180 meters in diameter, offering horizontal, perfectly radiating geometry, a randomly perforated woven material, providing shade punctuated by bursts of sun. The dome gleams in the Abu Dhabi sunshine. At night, this protected landscape is an oasis of light under a starry dome.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi becomes the final destination of an urban promenade, a garden on the coast, a cool haven, a shelter of light during the day and evening, its aesthetic consistent with its role as a sanctuary for the most precious works of art.”
Jean Nouvel speaking to the location, climate and geography of the Museum adds, “It is rather unusual to find a built archipelago in the sea. It is even more uncommon to see that it is protected by a parasol creating a rain of light.
The possibility of accessing the museum by boat or finding a pontoon to reach it by foot from the shore is equally extraordinary, before being welcomed like a much-awaited visitor willing to see unique collections, linger in tempting bookstores, or taste local teas, coffees and delicacies.”
EarthCam Brings Us There
For most of us, visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi is not possible, EarthCam is adding to the four-days opening festivities with the premiere of its construction time-lapse movie. Watch the 97,000 square meter museum area come to life with high definition images and stunning gigapixel panoramas from November 2009 to November 2017. Developed by TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company) the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the Gulf’s new go-to cultural destination.
Throughout an eight-year period, over one million high-resolution images, including billion pixel panoramas, were captured by EarthCam’s professional grade camera systems designed to withstand the environmental challenges unique to the Middle East. EarthCam’s regional support team installed 10 megapixelcam time-lapse cameras strategically throughout the project site, archiving progress from over 50 different perspectives.
“The Louvre Abu Dhabi is an epic architectural achievement and we are honored to have been the Time-Lapse technology provider for this iconic project,” said Brian Cury, CEO, and Founder of EarthCam. “I’m proud of the work our dedicated team has produced over the past eight years documenting this incredible Jean Nouvel masterpiece.”
What do you think of the Louvre Abu Dhabi architecture? Could it become a Destination to visit?
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Sources for this story: Louvre Abu Dhabi and Agence France-Muséums’ staff
Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism
The Emirati-French Cultural Programme (including The French Embassy in the UAE and the Institut Français)
Arwad Esber, Artistic and Programming Advisor for the opening week
Video: Courtesy of EarthCam