10 Jan Louvre Abu Dhabi: A Universal Museum
In November of 2017, ten years after the museum was established, the doors were opened at the incredible Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates. Working to bridge the gap between western and eastern art, the historic 30 year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government paves the path for art loans and cultural exchange not seen before. The building is located on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, with other major museums such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum. This is a partnership forged to bring world-class culture to the Middle East while strengthening international dialogue.
Designed by international award winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s breathtaking construction is as significant as the art it holds. Made up of 55 separate low buildings, the museum’s architecture both draws on and elevates the traditional building style of the Arabian culture. The center piece, a 7500 ton dome, has a weightless feel, as sunlight filters through to the floor within, just as it would through the leaves of palm trees. Connected intricately with the ocean, the building inspires visitors with the ever-changing light of the sky, sea, and architecture. Nouvel describes the space as “a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm.”
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is also designed as a micro climate, with LEED status, and has subsequently won several architecture awards, both for design and for environmental impact.
Identifying as a ‘universal’ museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to transcend individual cultures and blend the art into one international story. The pieces are not organized by geographical location or medium, but instead by a timeline, merging pieces from around the world into a single space. As the Louvre describes it, the goal is to “illustrate the similarities that grow out of a shared human experience, beyond any geographical, historical, or cultural boundaries. The result is a truly universal museum.”
Two temporary exhibitions are currently showing at the museum, each representing the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s vision for their universal space. One explores the history of the Louvre as one of the most influential cultural entities in the world. The second exhibition pairs Abu Dhabi artists with renowned French manufacturers for a collection focused on collaboration and breathing new life into the timeless crafts of embroidery, glass, weaving, and ceramics. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also has a children’s museum, focused on learning with family-focused exhibitions and workshops in both Arabic and English.
This new cultural destination is open for visitors, and accessible by land or sea.