Connecting cultures: Louvre Abu Dhabi

Connecting cultures: Louvre Abu Dhabi
Updated 17 April 2013

Connecting cultures: Louvre Abu Dhabi

Connecting cultures: Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi will open its next exhibition, Birth of a Museum, on Saadiyat Island on April 22 (running until July 20, 2013). Almost 130 art works, some of which have never been seen before, will be shown in Manarat Al-Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District’s art and exhibition center. This second exhibition showcasing a selection of the museum’s collection acquired to date, will give visitors insight into the museum’s narrative and collection ahead of its opening in 2015.
Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al-Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), spoke about: “We reflect on what has been achieved over the last few years in establishing the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Birth of a Museum echoes Abu Dhabi’s historical and geographical position and we hope this growing universal collection continues bridging civilizations, celebrating diversity and connecting cultures.”
Henri Loyrette, President of the Scientific Council of Agence France Museums (AFM) and former President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, said: “This exhibition is a major milestone in the realization of the Louvre Abu Dhabi so far as it unveils the admirable and high quality of the art works that will reflect the heart of the future Museum’s permanent collection. Moreover, this exhibition will embody remarkably the essence of the forthcoming birth of this universal museum.”
Jean-Luc Martinez, the newly appointed President-Director of the Louvre, has decided to conduct his first international visit in Abu Dhabi. This visit will be emblematic of his significant commitment to the project, which constitutes one of the top priorities of his upcoming mandate and policy.
A book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date is published and will be launched in parallel with the exhibition. This book also tells the story of the creation of the institution and the way in which a collection of exceptional quality is assembled for a museum that will mark the twenty-first century. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a few years behind schedule but last January brought news of the Dh 2.4 billion contract ($ 650 million) for the building of Abu Dhabi’s branch of the Louvre museum.
The future museum won’t look anything like the lavish 12th century building in Paris where Louis XIV once lived. With a built up area of 64,000 square meters, Louvre Abu Dhabi is conceived as a complex of pavilions, plazas, alleyways and canals evoking the image of a city floating on the sea. Hovering over the complex will be a form inspired by traditional Arabic architecture: a vast, 180 meters in diameter dome, perforated with interlaced patterns so that a magical, diffused light will filter through.
Designed by Pritzker-prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will offer 9,200 sq. meters of art galleries. The 6,000-sq. meter Permanent Gallery will house the museum’s permanent collection taking the visitor through a universal journey from the most ancient to contemporary through art works from different civilizations. The Temporary Gallery will be a dedicated space of 2,000 sq. meters presenting temporary exhibitions of international standards.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is developing its own permanent collection, which will be enriched by loans from 12 French museums including Musee du Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Musee du Quai Branly, and Center Pompidou.
Birth of a Museum is the thirteenth exhibition held prior to the opening of the Saadiyat Cultural District museums. Commenting on this event, Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.
Birth of a Museum is an exhibition which, like the Louvre Abu Dhabi, proposes a singular and original rereading of the history of art and is built around several key artistic and aesthetic questions core to the identity of the new museum: universalism, the comparison between art works from great civilizations from the most ancient times to the contemporary and multidisciplinary nature of artistic creation.
Art works include one of the finest examples of a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a Middle-Eastern gold bracelet with a lion’s head that is approximately 3000-year-old, a painting titled “The Good Samaritan” by Jacob Jordaens one of the major Flemish painter from the 17th century and a painting by Oman Hemdy Bey, known as, “A Young Emir Studying,” a selection of the James Ivory miniature collection includes fine examples of the chivalry ideals of the Rajputs schools depicted and an evolving dialogue between East and West culminates at the end of the exhibition in a cycle of nine canvases by contemporary artist Cy Twombly. The exhibition will travel from Abu Dhabi to Paris to be presented at the Louvre in Paris in October 2013.