A CURATORIAL STATEMENT

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Published on January 18, 2018 with No Comments

Louvre Abu Dhabi is a universal museum in the era of globalisation.

Words MUHAMMAD OON

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Louvre Abu Dhabi against the Abu Dhabi skyline.

 

Like the stars that guide the nomad in the desert, Jean Nouvel’s dome invites guests to look up and contemplate the world as soon as they step into Louvre Abu Dhabi. The vast edifice, 180 metres in diameter, covers the majority of the museum city and is visible from the sea, the surrounding areas and Abu Dhabi city centre.

The dome certainly will be a conversational piece. Constructed by Waagner Biro (specialists in steel structures), it consists of eight different layers: four outer layers clad in stainless steel and four inner layers clad in aluminium, separated by a steel frame five metres high. Each ray of light penetrates the eight layers’ highly studied geometric design before appearing or disappearing. The result is a cinematic ‘Rain of Light’ effect as the sun’s path progresses throughout the day. At night, it forms 7,850 stars visible from both inside and out.

Pritzker-prize winning architect Nouvel sought inspiration for the concept of Louvre Abu Dhabi in traditional Arabic architectural culture. The dome pays homage to the vital importance of shade in Arabia, and at the same time filters the light to create a kind of cosmic calligraphy of imaginary forms. Elsewhere the museum’s contrasting series of white buildings take inspiration from the medina and low-lying Arab settlements.

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s complex engineering concept has made it one of the most innovative and challenging museum projects built in recent times. Opened in November 2017 to much fanfare, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is celebrated as a museum whose design is a collaboration between traditional design and modern construction techniques. The construction of the museum took place from 2013 to 2017. The first of the Saadiyat Cultural District trifecta museums, Louvre Abu Dhabi will soon be joined by Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi that will turn this corner of the island into a cultural hub.

In total, 55 individual but connected buildings, including 26 galleries, make up this museum city. The façades of the buildings are made up of 3,900 panels of ultra-high performance fibre concrete (UHPC). The interior exhibition spaces, comprising museum galleries, temporary exhibition spaces and Children’s Museum, make up 8,600 square metres, with permanent galleries covering approximately 6,400 square metres. The two-storey Children’s Museum lays out around 200 square metres for Louvre Abu Dhabi’s youngest visitors.

In every gallery, Nouvel designed the floors, walls and ceiling surfaces to reinforce the palatial dimensions of Louvre Abu Dhabi. The floor paving is made of stone modules framed in bronze, and throughout the galleries, the choice of stone responds to the period of the artworks on show.

Through a unique intergovernmental agreement between the United Arab Emirates and France, signed in 2007, Louvre Abu Dhabi will be allowed the use of musée du Louvre’s name for 30 years and six months, and have invaluable access to expertise and training from 17 French partner institutions, as well as loans from 13 leading French museums for 10 years. Additionally, these institutions will support with programming special exhibitions at Louvre Abu Dhabi for 15 years.

The museum’s growing collection of exceptional treasures includes more than 620 important artworks and artefacts spanning the entirety of human history around the world. It also includes ancient archaeological finds, decorative arts, neoclassical sculptures, paintings by modern masters and contemporary installations. At opening, 235 works from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s own collection are displayed in the galleries.

To meet stringent environmental control requirements within the museum galleries, the design team developed a system which cannot deviate by more than one degree from 21°C or 5 percent humidity range. This guarantees exceptionally stable environmental conditions for artworks and visitors. Fire detection and suppression systems within the galleries require special measures in order to avoid damage to the artwork.

Additionally, Louvre Abu Dhabi will present four special exhibitions each year, curated and organised in collaboration with French partner institutions and Agence France-Muséums. This rich and diverse programme complements the permanent collection and enhances the museum’s universal narrative. Special exhibitions in the first year will explore the history of Paris’ musée du Louvre, the representation of the world through spheres, early photography, and the decorative paintings of the Nabis group. In addition to these exhibitions, Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoirfaire will also be on display during the opening year.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Dubai daily for a seamless UAE experience. Discover things to do in Abu Dhabi in www.muhibah.com.bn

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