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Abu Dhabi is definitely a city that knows how to show its value. Therefore, it is not such a surprise that if there were to exist another Louvre Museum, it would be there. The city is the home of the museum´s only subsidiary outside France, a name that has been granted for a 30 year-period. The works cost US$ 705 million, plus US$ 525 million for the name license and US$747 will be paid additionally in exchange for art loan from Louvre Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée d´Orsay and Versailles. The projet is part of a bold tourist and cultural development that plans to inaugurate other two museums, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
The building is stunning indeed; with a dome of 7500 tons, it was built with 8 thousand iron stars and earned the name "Rain of Light" due to the lighting, which gives the impression that it is a jewel, a jewel of architecture for sure. The construction started in 2007 and the museum was finally inaugurated in 2017. With an innovative and modern architecture style, the building is the promise of a cultural centre that brings cultures all together.
The architecture was signed by Jean Nouvel, who also designed the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Nouvel sought inspiration on the region´s architectural traditions and delivered a museum that translates a powerful message of United Arab Emirates´ modernity and tradition. Visitors will notice that concrete, water and light come together in the silvery dome that intentionally gives the impression of floating. The dome is complex though; a geometric figure weighing 7.5 tons (similar to the Eiffel Tower) that is formed by nearly 8 thousand layered stars of different sizes. It is supported by 4 piers that intentionally give the sensation the dome is ‘floating’, when in reality they are hidden within the structure, 110 meters apart from each other.
As the sun kisses the ceiling, some rays of light manage to infiltrate the building, and the result is an amusing effect within the museum, therefore the nickname “Rain of Light”. At night, the lighting from inside makes it even more beautiful and from far it looks a giant precious diamond. But the dome was not designed thinking only of beauty purposes, it was also designed thinking about the environment; it offers a natural cooling system and reduces the building´s energy consumption.
Next to concrete, water is another important element, as the museum is surrounded by it and visitors arrive by sea or land.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi´s mission is to be a universal museum, which means bring together a vast historical fresco of works of art of different cultures around the world. The idea is to gather art works that will make visitors question and feel many emotions, and surely the place hopes to unite people through human creativity. And because it union is a motto, the galleries recount humanity´s story in 12 parts and are set in chronological order instead of being geographically separated, providing a different and new type of experience in museums.
The museum´s permanent collection counts with 630 pieces of artwork and the digital team staff has been working to digitalize all of them, so very soon visitors from around the world will be able to admire artifacts, paintings and objects online. By mid-June 2020, around 120 items were already available to be viewed via the internet. Along with the images, the museum´s website will also include historical information of each piece, including dates and dimensions; some will be accompanied by audio clips (Arabic, English and French) for an even richer experience. Works will still need to be developed though, as the team plans to still enrich the data and implement tools, such as zoom-in features of high quality.
For those who plan a visit in loco, there are some must-see pieces you can´t miss, such as a statue of Pharaoh Ramses II, a self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh dated 1887, one of Gauguin´s work, a Mari-Cha lion from 1000-1200 and the Latin translation of the Treatise on Optics from somewhere between 695-1039, among others. Modern works are also displayed, and you will see the names of Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock there.
Reserve at least 2h if you wish to do a basic walk-through, but if you would like to examine the many pieces of art it is recommended at least 4h. The little ones are going to love the Children´s Museum inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a two floor-space that hosts workshops focused on their imagination with fully interactive exhibitions and lots of fun. Even though there is no dressing code, it is recommended to carry a jacket for your visit.
The museum is open from 10am to 8pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays, from 10am to 10pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and it is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost Dh60 (US$16) for 23 years old visitors and above and Dh30 (US$8) for visitors between the ages of 13 and 22.