Why You Shouldn’t Miss The Louvre in Abu Dhabi
The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is the largest and most visited museum in the Arab world. After an agreement was signed with the Louvre in 2007, the museum opened 10 years later as a sister museum to the Louvre in Paris. The museum features fantastic objects just like the one in Paris, but on a smaller scale. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also has contracts with Centre Pompidou and Musee D’Orsay and features exhibits of non-western traditional art. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has purchased half of its artifacts, while the other half are on loan from the Louvre in Paris and other French museums.
How does the Louvre Abu Dhabi compare to the Louvre in Paris?
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is, of course, much smaller. It is built on the Sa’adiyat island and thus is surrounded by water. There will eventually be a cluster of museums on this island; the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum, the Zayed National Museum, a maritime museum, and the Abrahamic family house are planned to open in a few years.
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi is made up of 55 smaller buildings. The buildings are very modern, and its Oriental yet ultra-modern dome, which seems like it’s floating, represents a sky of almost 8,000 metal stars. This allows the sun to filter through its steel components and provide light to an oases of date palms.
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The atmosphere between the two museums is very different. The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is much lighter and more spacious, with artifacts more spread out than the one in Paris.
How does the Louvre Abu Dhabi compare to the major museums in the Netherlands?
Having been to many, many art museums around the world, and especially in the Netherlands since I reside in Amsterdam, I find myself comparing the museum experiences.
The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is innovative. I find it is also very selective – I saw exclusively top-notch pieces that were (seemingly) intact, no shards missing.
The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is much smaller than some of the other major art museums of the world, so it feels much more intimate. The size, the interior light, the atmosphere and appearance all reminded me of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, but even more perhaps of the Kröller Müller museum in the Veluwe National Park (which by the way houses the world’s second largest Van Gogh collection).
The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is one of the highlights of the UAE. It’s a statement that conveys that the UAE values not just modern architecture with glitz and glamor, but also art. The UAE believes art is universal. This museum connects Middle Eastern and Islamic art with the art found around the world through a dialogue of diplomacy and trade.
It’s a not-to-be-missed site for any traveler.
Here are my favorite pieces in the current collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi Louvre conveys a message of universal beauty, no matter the location or era, by placing three objects together in one case thematically – bringing civilizations from all over the world together.
For instance, three figurines of mothers with a child: one in the Middle East from 4,000 years ago, a tribal one from 19th century Central Africa, and in the middle this Madonna from medieval Christian France. It reminds me of the recent exhibit “Icons” in Leeuwarden, which mixes its own Frisian historical portraits with historical portraits, both paintings and modern photographs on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London.
I love the striking simplicity and powerful images of this Mesopotamian pair, the fertility goddess with her folded arms, and the African horse riders. The expressed art transcends their cultures and share an animist origin. Clearly, some of these statuettes inspired many other modern art movements of the 19th century.
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This gorgeous, colorful Egyptian mummy is located in a case with a lid sharing the same 3-dimensional image.
This Greek vase is close to 2,500 years old and is so well preserved. The figures are very well proportioned. A human fighting a lion symbolized power and audacity, we see that for instance in Persepolis (Iran) as well. It suggests that the Greeks inspired the Achaemenid rulers; but who knows – it may have been the other way around.
Travel to the UAE with MIR
MIR has been handling the ins and outs and special requests for personalized travel in our destinations for more than 30 years. With MIR affiliate offices in Western Russia, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Georgia we can assure you of on-the-ground support, some of the most extensive travel and tourism experience in the region, and an unmatched ability to plan fascinating and unusual itineraries. And now we have expanded to the Middle East with both group and private trips to the UAE. May of our travelers like to add stopovers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi when flying on Emirates, Fly Dubai, or Etihad Airways to other MIR regions as well.
To schedule your own personalized adventure to any of MIR’s destinations, contact our Private Journey Specialists with a list of things you’ve always wanted to do, see, or experience; or send us your thoughts using our easy Custom Travel Inquiry Form.
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