ABU DHABI: This month marks the five-year anniversary since the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors. The museum, which opened on Nov. 11, 2017 with an aerial show, fireworks and an extravaganza of music and light under Jean Nouvel’s futuristic dome, is celebrating its milestone birthday with similar fanfare. It is the first museum to open on Saadiyat Island where Frank Gerry’s Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Norman Foster’s Zayed Nation Museum are still awaiting completion.
The fifth anniversary, which is being celebrated under the theme “The Grand Story,” continues offering new acquisitions, cultural events, educational activities and global entertainment.
“Celebrating a major milestone such as our fifth anniversary is a clear reflection of the sustained growth and progress in the region’s arts and culture landscape,” Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi Manuel Rabaté told Arab News. “As the first universal museum in the Arab World, Louvre Abu Dhabi has connected the region’s artistic ecosystem with the global cultural scene.”
Among the new acquisitions and loans from around the world is the arrival of Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned masterpiece, “Saint John the Baptist,” the first in a series of four major loans from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Loans from other partner museums include an ivory comb dating to 2300 B.C. from the Sharjah Archaeological Museum, a copy of “The Travels of Marco Polo” dating to the second half of the 14th century from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the painting “Woman in Blue” by Pablo Picasso, completed in 1944 from the Centre Pompidou.
These loans are displayed alongside several new acquisitions by the museum, including those recently acquired by Louvre Abu Dhabi for its permanent collection such as the painting “Thurifer Angel in a Yellow Tunic” (c. 1520) by Bernhard Strigel, “The Cup of Chocolate” (1877 – 1878) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (currently on display in the museum’s “Impressionism” exhibition), and a Chinese ritual tripod food vessel from the late Shang Dynasty (12th – 11th century B.C.).
Among the new contemporary installations are 11 mirrors from Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s series “Mirror Paintings,” on display until February 2023, comprising panels of stainless steel polished to a mirror finish, onto which the artist applies an image made by tracing a photograph blown up to life-size proportions on delicate paper.
Also on view is British artist Jenny Holzer’s “BIRTHDAY” in the form of a large-scale light projection on the museum’s impressive architecture.
The line-up of events staged to mark the museum’s five-year anniversary includes workshops, curatorial talks and performances by regional and international stars John Legend, Majid Al-Muhandis and Omar Khairat.
The anniversary events are supported by Cartier and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth-anniversary partners.
The celebratory month of programming emphasizes the importance of the cultural institution’s place within the UAE, the greater Middle East and the world.
“The development of cultural institutions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi also reinforces the local artistic landscape and supports artists from surrounding countries and regions,” Rabaté said. “Since its inception, Louvre Abu Dhabi has been a testing ground for new ideas in a globalized world, championing a new generation of cultural leaders. Regional cooperation remains a top priority for Louvre Abu Dhabi, and I am looking forward to working with our key partners and stakeholders across the region to deliver value for all our audiences.”
The museum reflects the idea of cultural transformation for the UAE and the greater Gulf region as well as the ability to offer, in Rabaté’s words, “endless moments of cultural connections.”