A year on from its opening, we round up the best bits from a year of the Louvre Abu Dhabi…

Hailed as being the world’s first universal museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors for business on the 11th of November 2017. The inauguration speeches by the French President Emmanuel Macron and the UAE’s leaders claimed the museum signified a new way of witnessing humanity.

By doing away with traditional departments divided by geography or time period, the kind usually found in major museums, Louvre Abu Dhabi displays objects from different parts of the world that were made in the same era in order to find a common narrative or a universal story. It marks quite a shift in the way we experience museums and paves the way for the future of museum making in our age of globalisation.

As well as the permanent collection, the museum has hosted a number of temporary exhibitions and events. Here are some of the highlights from the last year. 

The Permanent Collection

The museum begins with a prologue room titled the Grand Vestibule. Upon the floor, the jagged line of the coastline of the UAE appears to encourage the visitor to feel like a maritime explorer, metaphorically washed up on the shores of Abu Dhabi and about to enter a brave new world. The rest of the content is laid out over 12 rooms or chapters. It starts in the prehistoric ages and moves to the present day. Thanks to the clever presentation, it makes a visitor feel as if they are walking through the story of the history of all civilisation. As you move from one hall to the next, it is as if a new page of history is being turned.

From One Louvre to Another. December 21, 2017 to April 7, 2018

The Musée du Louvre in Paris houses one of the world’s most renowned collections of art. This exhibition was divided into three sections revealing the creation of the French museum from the royal collections at the Château de Versailles under Louis XIV, the Louvre as a palace for artists, and the final opening of the museum. This fascinating history told in the context of the Abu Dhabi museum, asked viewers to compare the institutions and consider the significance of both.

Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir-faire. December 21, 2017 to August 26, 2018

This was a space for contemporary works of art created by UAE-based artists to be displayed. The Co-Lab programme paired up young artists with leading French manufacturers to create collaborative works all responding to the subject of time. The fresh and thoughtful installations were a refreshing expression of creativity.

Humanity in the poetry of the Late Sheikh Zayed. February 21, 2018

As part of a series of on-going talks held in the museum’s auditorium this was a discussion about the legacy that the UAE’s founding father left behind in his poetry. Featuring Dr Ghassan Hassan, a Nabati poetry expert and Sultan Al Amimi, a specialist researcher the scholars talked about how the poems reflect the former leader’s humanitarian side, messages of unity, vision for development and local culture.

Love and Revenge (Gharam Wa Intiqam). May 2 to May 3, 2018

This live music and video show by Randa Mirza and Wael Kodeih revisits music and cinema archive from the Arab world, featuring singers and film stars from Arab pop songs and Egyptian films.

Globes: The Visions of the World. March 23 to June 2, 2018

This exhibition explored the history of the spherical representation of the world and its scientific instruments from antiquity to the present day. Sourced mainly from the national library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France) more than 40 globes and spheres, rare archaeological remains, scripts, astrolabes and world maps immersed visitors in the 2500 years’ history of representing the world.

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor. September 6 to November 24, 2018

This exhibition traces the influence of the iconic Japanese Ukiyo-e aesthetic on modern French decorative artists, through a presentation of more than 40 prints, paintings and screens. It also includes Manga Lab, a special space for teenagers and young adults to explore Japanese youth culture through virtual reality experiences, graphic comics and gaming. (September 6, 2018 to January 5, 2019)

Big in Japan Festival. October 25 to 27, 2018

This weekend festival included a spoken word performance by Emirati Afra Atiq and a performance by the Turntable Symphonograph Orchestra from Japan. The museum’s café also featured a special Japanese inspired menu.

Coming up…

On the first anniversary of the museum, the first full year programme was announced. Beginning in November with an exhibition exploring the archaeological and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula, the programming moves to the 17th century with one of the world’s biggest collections of Rembrandt paintings will go on show. By April there will be an exhibition tracing early photographic methods from all over the world and in September, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Children’s Museum will open its second exhibition, which looks at real and imaginary animals throughout art history.

  • Roads of Arabia (November 8, 2018 – February 16, 2019)
  • Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre (February 14 – May 14, 2019)
  • Opening the Album of the World (April 25 – July 30, 2019) in collaboration with Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Children’s Museum will open its second exhibition on September 6, 2019.

How to celebrate

British pop star Dua Lipa will headline a series of events at the Louvre Abu Dhabi to celebrate the art museum’s one-year anniversary. The One Kiss singer, who performed at Abu Dhabi’s du Forum on Yas Island in February, will take to the stage at the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s concert village on Sunday, November 11. Tickets are Dhs200 with free entry to the museum from 2pm to 6pm. The concert village doors will open from 6pm with DJ sets before the show.

The one-year anniversary celebrations will take place from November 8 to 11, with concerts, exhibitions, family activities and workshops.

From November 9 to 10, a series of pop-up performances titled Spoken Art will see seven spoken-word poets perform from 1pm to 6pm at various locations throughout the museum.

Emirati interdisciplinary designer Salem Al Mansoori will unveil an animated digital work in the museum’s entrance lobby titled Constellations, which reflects data of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s visitors throughout the past year.

Also on the weekend of November 9 to 10, the art museum will host free activities and a 30-minute discovery tour for all ages in the park in front of the museum. The tours will take place at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Wed, 10am to 8pm, Thur and Fri 10am to 10pm, Dhs63, under-12s free. Tel: (600) 565566. louvreabudhabi.ae 

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