Louvre Abu Dhabi hosts four temporary exhibitions per year. As part of the unique collaboration between Abu Dhabi and France, they will be organised and created by thirteen French museum partners, exclusively for visitors to Louvre Abu Dhabi. These temporary exhibitions will follow the same thematic approach as the permanent collections in the Museum Galleries, highlighting comparisons, influences and ideas shared ideas across civilisations and cultures.
Wishing to make their country a top cultural destination and internationally recognized for art, education, and culture, the leaders of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi launched the development of this major, universal art museum project. By developing tourism, education, and services, they aimed to dawn the post-oil age. Abu Dhabi called on French expertise to help them successfully bring the Arab world’s first universal museum to life.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of an unprecedented initiative that laid the groundwork for a new type of cultural collaboration of unparalleled scope between two countries, centered on the creation of a national institution. Born out of an intergovernmental agreement signed on March 6, 2007, between the United Arab Emirates and France, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum in the Arab world. The museum brings the Louvre name to Abu Dhabi and presents both ancient and contemporary works of historic, cultural, and sociological interest from around the world.
The agreement involves twelve French public cultural establishments under the umbrella of Agence France-Muséums:
The Musée du Louvre,
The Centre Pompidou,
The Public Establishment of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie,
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF),
The Musée du Quai Branly,
The Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais,
The Musée et Domaine National de Versailles,
The Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet,
The École du Louvre,
The Musée Rodin,
The Domaine National de Chambord,
The French Operator for Heritage and Cultural Building Projects (Oppic)
Overview of the collection: a unique museum
The future museum is not, in any way, a copy of the French Louvre; it is an individual institution offering its own interpretation of a universal museum, reflecting its era and the local traditions of the country it lies in. Its collection, which will include loans from French institutions (rotated on a ten-year basis), as well as works from its own currently-developing compilation, will be presented in an original manner.
Its uniqueness is based on an overarching vision of artistic creation. Museums traditionally organize their collections by school, technique, and materials, and while this approach does highlight the unique characteristics of a series, it does nothing to show the influences, exchanges, and circulation of ideas and know-how. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s unique exhibition design explores the connections between civilizations and cultures that may, at first, appear to be far separated by time and geography. Visitors will be guided through a chronological and theme-based display, traversing different periods and civilizations. The display picks out universal themes and common influences to illustrate the similarities that grow out of a shared human experience, beyond any geographical, historical, or cultural boundaries. The result is a truly universal museum.
An all-encompassing collection
The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection began with a blank slate and is growing gradually; it comprises ancient and contemporary works from different countries. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambition is to acquire high-quality works and build up a first-class collection worthy of international recognition. An Acquisitions Committee following the model of the Musée du Louvre’s own committee has been formed. The teams within TCA Abu Dhabi and Agence France-Muséums study proposals and follow acquisition practices. Works are chosen according to the strictest ethical considerations, and their origins are closely scrutinized. The Committee must endorse each acquisition.
These exceptional works include a gold bracelet with lion figures made in Iran nearly 3,000 years ago, an Italian gold and garnet fibula (brooch) from the 5th century BC, a superb Virgin and Child by Bellini, paintings by Jordaens, Caillebotte, Manet, Gauguin, and Magritte, a paper collage by Picasso never seen in the public domain, and nine canvasses by the recently deceased American painter Cy Twombly. The collection not only includes pieces from the Middle East and the West but also works such as a Soninke/Djennenke figure from Mali, a dancing Shiva from India, and an octagonal box from China, all bringing influence from other geographical regions. The collection is multidisciplinary and spans every medium: in addition to painting, sculpture, tapestry, goldwork, paper collage, etc., the Louvre Abu Dhabi will also showcase a photography collection and works from the decorative arts, such as a decanter by Christopher Dresser (Glasgow, 1834–Mulhouse, 1904).