The agreement represents a sum in the order of 1 billion EUR over thirty years, from which 425 millions go to the Louvre (with 150 millions EUR right after the signature of the agreement), and 550 million EUR for the Agence France-Museums (for the mobilization of the artworks, and for temporary exhibitions). Abu Dhabi will reserve for the progressive constitution of the own collection an annual budget of 40 million EUR. Moreover, Abu Dhabi agreed to pay 25 million EUR as patronage of the Louvre to refurbish a wing of the Pavillon de Flore, which will then carry the name of a distinguished personality of the Emirates.
The museum is scheduled to open in December 2015.
The striking and innovative Louvre Abu Dhabi building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. Nouvel states that he wanted this building to mirror a protected territory that belongs to the Arab world and this geography. Combining modern architecture and inspiration drawn from the region’s traditions, the design reflects the desire to create a universal museum in which all cultures are brought together. Situated on the Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is poised between sand and sea. Providing a haven of coolness, the building forms a place of shade during the day and ‘an oasis of light under a spangled dome’ at night.
Saadiyat Island's Cultural District where Louvre Abu Dhabi is located plans to house the other world-class cultural assets as well. These projects include Zayed National Museum that will be designed by Foster and Partners, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary arts museum designed by Frank Gehry, a performing arts center Zaha Hadid.
The central display will be concentrated with relevant and revealing works lining one unique path – the principal route via which visitors will navigate their way through the museum. The journey proceeds chronologically with different civilisations developing in parallel as the visitor moves forward on a journey through time. This display features four major periods: Archaeology and the Birth of Civilisation; Medieval Days and the Birth of Islam; the Classical Period from Humanism to Enlightenment; and Modern and Contemporary Art, starting at the end of the 18th century. A full program of temporary exhibitions will complement the central display.
Through loans provided for in the intergovernmental agreement, the contributions from a number of French public collections, particularly those of the Agence France-Muséums shareholder institutions: the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, the École du Louvre, the Musée Rodin, the Domaine National de Chambord, and the OPPIC will doubtless take these ideas to a new level. For the first time in their museum history, these ensembles will often find continuity and unity of presentation, going beyond habitual institutional boundaries.
According to Louvre authorities the projects has been described as “the first universal museum in the Arab world, Louvre Abu Dhabi is an innovative and ambitious project. Transferring to an Arab country a cultural form born in Enlightenment Europe, its deep sense of identity is rooted in the notions of discovery, exchange and thus education.”
This project has caused a lot of controversy with for example art historian Didier Rykner expressing that the Louvre is behaving “like a corporation with a clearly defined strategy: profit maximization”. To the Minister of Culture the year the project was proposed Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres expresses the project in a different light with not a form of selling legacy and heritage but expanding it, “radiating it to parts of the world that value it”.
Echoing this interest, the prime minister of UAE sees this as a major achievement of Abu Dhabi’s vision of becoming more internationally renown and further strengthening international dialogue of embracing all cultures.
1) How would you describe the role of Louvre Abu Dhabi differently than Louvre Paris?
2) In this age of global world, how would you describe the public collections shared with Louvre Abu Dhabi and its political implications? Please refer to the idea of national identities constructed in public museums.
3) Who is the other for Louvre Abu Dhabi?
Duncan, Carol. "Art museums and the ritual of citizenship." in Pearce, Susan M., ed. Interpreting objects and collections. Psychology Press, 1994.