The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, was yesterday inaugurated.
The UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and President of France Emmanuel Macron, opened the museum.
In attendance were King Mohammed VI of Morocco, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, and a host of guests representing several countries, Wam news agency said.
An iconic architectural masterpiece designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a first-of-its-kind museum in the Arab region which offers a new perspective on the history of art in a globalised world.
It will open to the public this Saturday (November 11), with a spectacular week-long series of celebrations, stated the report.
The museum displays a rare collection that spans the history of humanity, arranged on a chronological journey from prehistory to the present day, encompassing 12 chapters including the birth of the first villages; universal religions; cosmography; the magnificence of the royal court; and the modern world.
Ahead of the opening, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, received the heads of state upon their arrival to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The guests toured the different sections of the museum and marveled at the rare pieces on display of ancient masterpieces, including Bactrian Princess created in Central Asia at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century BCE, a Gothic Bible, as well as a winged dragon statue from China.
They also stopped at other ancient and contemporary pieces from the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and France and other countries.
The inaugural installation in its spacious collection galleries will present 600 works of art, half from its own holdings and half consisting of loaned works from its 13 partner museums in France. The museum will also begin an ongoing programme of special exhibitions in December.
Located on the waterfront in Abu Dhabi’s cultural district on Saadiyat Island, Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of a unique collaboration between the UAE capital and France.
The museum’s collection spans the history of humanity and will explore a universal narrative through artworks and artefacts from all over the world.
The inaugural installation will take visitors on a chronological journey from prehistory to the present day, encompassing 12 chapters including the birth of the first villages, universal religions, cosmography, the magnificence of the royal court, and the modern world, said the Wam report.
Mohamed Al Mubarak, the chairman of the Department of Tourism and Culture Department - Abu Dhabi, and the Tourism Development and Investment Company, TDIC, said: "The UAE is proud of our rich heritage, while also embracing progress and change. We are a dynamic, vibrant and multicultural society, where people live in harmony and tolerance. This diversity is reflected in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection, which celebrates the innate human fascination with discovery."
"Each visitor will encounter extraordinary artworks and artefacts from global cultures that are both familiar and surprising. Louvre Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s gift to the world, and we look forward to welcoming our first visitors," stated Al Mubarak.
Manuel Rabate, the director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: "Louvre Abu Dhabi sets a benchmark for the region, attracting the next generation of talented museum professionals. It has reinvented the 18th-century premise of the universal museum for a demanding contemporary audience. In a complex multi-narrative world, these ideas are more important than ever."
"By exhibiting works from diverse cultures in the same space, our curation shows the interconnectedness of different ideologies, aesthetics and artistic techniques. The museum story transports visitors through a history of humanity illuminated by our collection of exceptional treasures," noted Rabate.
Commenting on behalf of Musee du Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, the president-director of Musee du Louvre and chairman of the Scientific Board of Agence France-Museums, said: "Today is the inauguration of Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum like no other, which could be considered as the most ambitious cultural project of the early 21st century. It carries a message of openness, which is critical for our era."
"This incredible project was conceived in the emirates and carried out as an inspiring partnership. Today, we are proud that expertise given by French museums, and the extraordinary artworks that have been gathered together, contribute to the achievement of this museum, which will amaze the world and make its mark in the history of museums," he added.
On the iconic project, designer Jean Nouvel said: "Louvre Abu Dhabi embodies an exceptional programme in the literal sense of the word. Its vocation is now to express what is universal throughout the ages. Its architecture makes it a place of convergence and correlation between the immense sky, the sea-horizon and the territory of the desert."
"Its dome and cupola imprint the space with the consciousness of time and of the moment through an evocative light of a spirituality that is its own," he added.
Presented across 6,400 sq m of galleries, the museum’s growing collection includes more than 600 important artworks and artefacts, approximately half of which will be presented for the opening year. It includes ancient archaeological finds, decorative arts, neoclassical sculptures, paintings by modern masters and contemporary installations.
Ancient masterpieces from the collection include a Bactrian Princess created in Central Asia at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a Grecian sphinx from the 6th century BCE and an Iranian gold bracelet in the shape of a lion.
Highlights from later periods include an ancient astrolabe, part of a display showing the science of cosmography, a red Chinese lacquer chest of drawers produced in France by Bernard II van Risenburgh, which shows the cross-cultural inspirations born from global trade routes, and Giovanni Bellini’s 'Madonna and Child', representing the emergence of religious art and iconography, said the Wam report.
Works such as a Bronze Oba head from the Benin Kingdom and Jacob Jordaens’ 'The Good Samaritan' demonstrate the magnificence of royal courts around the world.
A series of iconic paintings captures the emergence of the modern world, including Gustave Caillebotte’s 'Game of Bezique', Edouard Manet’s 'The Gypsy', Paul Gauguin’s 'Children Wrestling', Osman Hamdi Bey’s 'A Young Emir Studying', Piet Mondrian’s 'Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black', René Magritte’s 'The Subjugated Reader' and Pablo Picasso’s 'Portrait of a Lady', it stated.
The museum’s contemporary art collection has nine canvases by Cy Twombly and a monumental sculpture by renowned international artist, Ai Weiwei. As part of an ongoing programme of commissions, Jenny Holzer and Giuseppe Penone have created monumental site-specific installations, exhibited under the dome in open air and embedded in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s architecture.
As part of the intergovernmental agreement between the UAE and France, Louvre Abu Dhabi has access to expertise and training from 17 French partner institutions. It will also benefit from the ability to borrow works of art from 13 leading French museums for 10 years, and from special exhibitions organised by these institutions for 15 years.
Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, the chairman of Agence France-Museums, said: "What more stimulating challenge could there be for the French museums and cultural institutions than to invent, in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum entirely unlike any other in existence?"
"Committed all together, they remind us with Louvre Abu Dhabi that culture and education remain invaluable foundations that this museum, now open to one and all, embodies in so many ways," he stated.
At the opening, 300 works from French partner museums are on display. Additional works from regional and UAE institutions will be on view at Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah provides key objects including a pendant dating back to 2000-1800 BCE and a painted Neolithic vase, discovered on the 8000-year-old settlement on Marawah Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
The other highlights are a prehistoric stone tool dating back to 350,000 BCE, a milestone indicating the distance from Makkah in Kufic inscriptions and a funerary stele dating back to 700–900 CE from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, a collection of over 400 silver Dirham coins from the National Museum – Sultanate of Oman, and an 8,000-year-old, two-headed figure from Jordan’s Department of Antiquities called the Ain Ghazal Statue.
The Children’s Museum at Louvre Abu Dhabi will also open to the public, and its inaugural special exhibition, 'From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone', opens on December 21.
The museum galleries and exhibitions will be open on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am to 8pm and on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 10pm.
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