ABU DHABI / AGENCIES
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and President of France Emmanuel Macron, opened on Wednesday Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France.
In attendance were King Mohammed VI of Morocco, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, and a host of guests representing several brotherly and friendly countries.
Surrounded by water from three sides, the museum houses 600 artworks it has acquired, alongside 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions, in its 23 permanent galleries. The artists range from Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh to Pablo Picasso and Cy Twombly.
Permanent installations include a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, an enormous bronze tree with mirrored branches called “leaves of light”
by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone and three engravings on stone walls bearing historic texts from the region by Jenny Holzer, an American neo-conceptual artist.
And there are priceless pieces. They include a statue of the Sphinx dating back to the 6th century B.C., 13 fragments of a frieze that reveals Surah
al Hashr from the Holy Quran and a marble bust of Alexander the Great. Among the paintings is one by Leonardo DaVinci, done between 1495 and 1499 and called La Belle Ferronniere, or Portrait of an Unknown Woman, which was recently restored and is on loan from the original Musee du Louvre in Paris.
The Abu Dhabi museum was set up under a 2007 inter-governmental agreement between Paris and Abu Dhabi.
Louvre Abu Dhabi has partnered with museums and cultural institutions in the Arab world, who will lend 28 significant works.
Among them are an 8,000-year-old, two-headed figure called the Ain Ghazal statue from Jordan, some 400 silver dirham coins from Oman and a pre-historic stone tool from Saudi Arabia. Having invested over $1 billion in the museum, Abu Dhabi is hoping culture will attract tourists.
Having invested over $1 billion in the museum, Abu Dhabi is hoping culture will attract tourists.