Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open in November.
Here Breaking Travel News takes a tour of the fascinating new facility.
The new location will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance from around the world.
Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.
Museums traditionally display objects and artworks belonging to an artistic civilisation, historical period or art movement in one room.
While giving us a taste of what a particular culture may have been like, this approach can give the impression of hermetically sealed cultures developing with no outside influence, no exchange or trade of ideas, knowledge, trends or stories.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be different.
Its unique museographic approach – displaying objects and art chronologically - will explore connections between seemingly disparate civilisations and cultures around the world.
This is what will make the museum truly universal, transcending geography and nationality.
The universal approach suits Abu Dhabi well, reflecting the city’s position at the crossroads of East and West, North and South, and its ancient and vital role in the days of the Silk Route, when the region linked Europe and the Indian Ocean, opening up exchanges between Asia and Africa.
Louvre Abu Dhabi and the wider Saadiyat Cultural District will be a place where diverse and far-flung parts of the world can meet to exchange ideas and culture.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is developing its own national collection, which will be enriched by loans from French museums including Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou.
The dialogue between artworks, sculptures and objects allow visitors to discover shared influences and intriguing connections between different cultures around the globe – giving insight into the history of humankind since the beginning of time.
Visitors can walk through the promenades overlooking the sea beneath the museum’s 180-metre dome, comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern.
When sunlight filters through, it creates a moving ‘rain of light’ beneath the dome, reminiscent of the overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases.
On display will be the museum’s important collection of artworks, artefacts and loans from France’s top museums.
These span the entirety of human existence: from prehistorical objects to commissioned contemporary artworks, highlighting universal themes and ideas and marking a departure from traditional museography that often separates according to origin.
The journey proceeds chronologically with different civilisations developing in parallel as the visitor moves forward through time.
This display features four major periods: archaeology and the birth of civilisation; medieval days and the birth of Islam; the Classical period from Humanism to Enlightenment; and modern and contemporary, starting at the end of the 18th century.
In true enlightenment style, visitors will be invited to study the works for themselves, compare them, and delight in their unique qualities and meanings.
A variety of textual and multimedia resources in multiple languages will place the artworks in context, explain where they come from and relate the rich histories of the objects and artworks.
The central installation will be complemented by a full programme of temporary exhibitions.
These will amplify the message of the museum’s galleries, inviting cultural loan and exchange from institutions all over the world.
In addition, a Louvre Abu Dhabi Children’s Museum will ensure that the youngest visitors can explore and discover the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection in an engaging, interactive environment.
Ever aware of context, French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the building, has a falaj-inspired water system running through the museum, inspired by ancient Arabian engineering.
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s geometric lace dome was inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material and resulting in an enchanting rain of light.
The roof’s complex pattern is the result of the same geometric design repeated at various sizes and angles in ten different layers, five external and five internal, an arrangement that gave the dome a lacy and delicate form.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi embodies our belief that nations thrive on diversity and acceptance, with a curatorial narrative that emphasises how interconnected the world has always been.
“The museum represents the latest innovation in a long-standing tradition of cultural preservation nurtured by the founding leaders of the UAE.”
Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the centrepiece of the Saadiyat Island development where an entire district on is devoted to culture and the arts.
Unprecedented in scale and scope, Saadiyat Cultural District will be a live canvas for global culture, drawing local, regional and international visitors with unique exhibitions, permanent collections, productions and performances.
Its iconic institutions will be housed in buildings drawing a statement of the finest architecture at the beginning of the 21st century.
Alongside the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the location will welcome the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
This will be a preeminent platform for global contemporary art, and will present the most important artistic achievements of our time.
They will both sit alongside the Zayed National Museum.
Taking its place as the national museum of the UAE, telling the story of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his unification of the United Arab Emirates, the new development will tell the history of the region and its cultural connections across the world.
Louvre Abu Dhabi will be developed with the expertise of the Agence France-Museums and in partnership with the Musée du Louvre, renowned for its museological excellence since its foundation in 1793.
Find out more about the project on the official website.
Images courtesy: Mohamed Somji