Now Open: The Louvre Abu Dhabi

Leah Farinella, Contributor

The Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island of the United Arab Emirates opened just recently on November 11. This new museum showcases art from a multitude of cultures, focusing on a non-western approach to the story of human history with a smaller section devoted to modern and contemporary pieces. Although the museum was able to acquire about 600 works of their own before opening, much of what will be on display for the next fifteen years is part of an agreement between The United Arab Emirates and the French museum community. This will give the museum about 300 pieces that all belong to a group of seventeen different French museums. As the new museum grows and continues to add pieces to its personal collection the pieces on loan will be gradually transferred back to their homes in Paris. Along with the artwork, the name Louvre, in a way, is on loan from the iconic Louvre in Paris and the new museum is allowed to use it for the next thirty and a half years.

The building itself has been a decade in the making and is the brainchild of French based architect Jean Nouvel whose goal, according to The Guardian, was to “create a neighbourhood of art, rather than a building.” He designed the museum to resemble the feel and organization of a traditional arab town while still incorporating art deco and modern styles. The metal dome over the top of the building has a 560 foot radius and is a lattice work of many layers with a total of seventeen different patterns. This lets light sporadically into the building which then interacts with the water that fills the channels within the museum, connecting the building to the outdoors.

Unfortunately, this museum was not able to open without controversy. First of all, the start of the project had to be delayed due to the United Arab Emirates’ economic decline which had followed the drop in oil prices. Political tension within the region, as well as the skeptical views of the public on the project, made the creation of this museum trickier than originally hoped for. Outside of the country, the French people, government, and museum community were all in debate as to whether or not they truly wanted to loan out so much of their countries treasures. The global museum community was severely against the idea of transporting so many valuable pieces. This debate went so far that petitions were made against the new museum for fear of damaging the art. Eventually, the museum got the okay to proceed but, many in the art community are still not happy with what has happened. Despite all of these things the museum has been able to open successfully and is now able to present to the public the bringing together cultures of both the Eastern and Western world.