If there is an EVENT, with capitals, in the UAE in 2017 is doubtlessly the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum opening. With the purpose to link the past and the future, it will be a journey through human history. Among the 12 galleries, we can find selected art pieces, from prehistory to contemporary art. All under a magnificent space.
After 10 years, Louvre Abu Dhabi became a reality for the enjoyment of the visitors and for the pride of UAE. Born from an intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates, Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum in the Arab world.
It is also the first museum opening in Saadiyat Island Cultural District, an ambitious project which will place UAE in the international Arts and Culture scene.
Zayed National Museum, focused on Emirates’ history and culture by Lord Norman Foster and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, by Frank Gehry will complete the museum complex.
Manarat Al Saadiyat and the UAE Pavilion for Shanghai’s World Expo 2010 are also part of the cultural hub.
Talking about the cultural program, international exhibitions, home-grown innovative art, inclusive talks, seminars, screenings and art classes will be held constantly.
LOUVRE ABU DHABI: THE BUILDING
Louvre Abu Dhabi is a unique building created by the Pritzker prize Jean Nouvel. A space occupying 97,000 m2 in Saadiyat Island, from which 8,600 m2 are dedicated to the permanent galleries, exhibitions, and Children’s Museum. The building also has an Auditorium, a restaurant, a café and a boutique.
If there is something distinctive about UAE is the sun and the light. They are a key element in the design concept. The way light goes through the dome make us feel under a magic luminous rain.
If in Paris the glass pyramid is the emblem of Louvre, in Louvre Abu Dhabi the dome is the insignia. Both play with the natural light.
The dome, made of eight layers of cladding, gives shape to 7,850 unique stars. Nouvel wanted to build a metaphor for the effect the sun produces when goes through the palm trees. Light and shadow, together with the geometry, intersperse in these 180 meters diameter, 565 meters circumference and 7500 tonnes structure. As described by Nouvel “it’s a cosmic object representing the sky”. At night, the dome creates a magical starry effect.
The shape of the building and the geometric pattern are also a gesture to the UAE culture and architecture.
Something remarkable about this building is that it is eco-friendly. Not only the dome is an iconic decorative element, but it protects the outdoor plaza from the sun, improving the comfort and reducing energy consumption.
Even before the museum was completed, it had already received three international awards. Can you imagine? It holds the ‘Project of the Future’ of the Identity Design Award (2015); the European Steel Design Award, and ‘Most Prominent UAE Project’ of the Identity Design Award (2017).
The galleries and the artworks displayed are the result of a detailed research and an exceptional curatorial practice. They are organized representing different periods and taking the visitor on a journey through art history. Galleries count with skylights and artificial lighting to provide the optimal illumination.
The visitor will be able to enjoy 12 chapters or galleries while walking through art history.
In The Great Vestibule, ancient works will introduce the similarities between early civilizations.
In the Gallery 1 –the First Villages- shows the preoccupations of the period: fertility, agriculture, and livestock.
Gallery 2 covers the First Great Powers, or first kingdoms appeared next to the Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, Indus, and Yellow River around 3000 BCE. The development of the first cities and the bronze weapons as a symbol of splendor and prestige. The invention of writing is fundamental in this period.
Civilizations and Empires are the common thread in the Gallery 3. The creation of cultural and political groups around 1000 BCE gave origin to Ancient Civilizations, which collapse led to a change of artistic ways used by universal religions for spreading their message.
Gallery 4 is about Universal Religions and the transformation they brought to the ancient societies. The different representations of the divine and the power to unite communities and influence the intellectual and artistic activities are key to the period starting around 2000 years back.
Gallery 5 embraces the Asian Trade Routes which helped the exchange of exotic materials like silk, ceramics, jewelry, incense… between continents. The innovation provided by the invention of new materials also promoted new models of thought and changed the ways of creating artworks.
From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic is the topic represented in Gallery 6. The importance of the Mediterranean routes for the commercial and cultural exchange and the influence of Islam and Christianity in the world are a key element. Also, the discovery of the American continent changed the whole vision and allowed contact with an unknown civilization.
At the Intersection, we learn about Cosmography and its importance for the development of the humanity. Travelling around the world was possible. So, society experienced an early form of globalization. Maps and globes sketched the contours of the new world.
In the Gallery 7, the World in perspective, the discoveries in different fields like mathematics and optics -mostly from Arabs -are the main subject. Geometric and abstract approaches would be the result of these developments, key to creating depth and three-dimensional images.
Gallery 8 houses the Magnificence of the Court. Contact between different cultures also brought rivalry. Art and architecture served to show power and monarchs would attract artists to help enhance their image.
A New Art of Living and the Enlightenment is on display in Gallery 9. The worldwide economy was growing in the 18th century, helping develop new models of consumption. Furniture, decoration, and clothing had a bigger importance in a society centered on the individual.
A Modern World? This question arises in the Gallery 10. Here we can enjoy the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The new means of transport and colonization inspired the artists. Photography was born to capture reality and change the way we see the world.
Gallery 11 ‘challenges’ modernity. After the two World wars, there are new paradigms. Artists take these questions and reinvent themselves creating new and radical movements, such as abstraction, ready-mades and surrealism.
Gallery 12 represents a Global Stage. Communications, with television and internet as main characters, created individuals who question themselves. It also plays a key role in multiculturality. Some artists try to give answers to existential questions and reflect a collective memory in the artworks.
Apart from the permanent galleries, every year there will be four special exhibitions.
The museum also invites renowned contemporary artists to create installations. First commissions, created by Jenny Holzer and Giuseppe Penone, will be on display for the opening.
A SOCIAL SPACE
Jean Nouvel describes the museum as a meeting point. It is conceived as a place to socialize and exchange ideas. Similar to an Agora, or the Medina in the Islamic civilization. The forums, conferences, talks… will bring people together.
The layout allows the dialogue. It’s a conversation between cultures and civilizations, periods, disciplines… As well as between the pieces of art and the visitors.
It is a fusion of the three great religions, an open space to interpretation where the visitors come to their own conclusions.
THE ARCHITECT, JEAN NOUVEL
Jean Nouvel is a renowned French architect and designer. He obtained his degree in 1972. He became a founding member of the “Mars 1976”, a Movement whose purpose was to oppose the architects’ corporativism. Soon, he was also a founder of French Architecture Union. He is the creator of the Arab World Institute (Paris, 1987), the Opera House (Lyon, 1993), the Cartier Foundation (Paris, 1994), the Agbar Tower (Barcelona, 2005) among others.
Jean Nouvel’s work does result from a quest to create a unique concept for a singular combination of people, place and time. He is an expert in transforming environments and make cities simply iconic.
His works have gained worldwide recognition through numerous prestigious French and International prizes and rewards. In 1989, The Arab World Institute got the Aga-Khan Prize as a bridge between French and Arab cultures. Jean Nouvel received in 2000 the Lion d’Or of the Venice Biennale. Just one year later, he received three of the highest international awards -The Royal Gold Medal of the RIBA, the Praemium Imperial of Japan’s Fine Arts Association and the Borromini Prize for the Culture and Conference Center in Lucerne. He is Docteur Honoris Causa of the Royal College of Art in London. To top it all, Jean Nouvel was the recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2008 (like the Nobel Prize for architects).
As you can imagine, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will also have an Art Club. A membership program which offers exclusive benefits. First previews for special exhibitions, entrance to Musée du Louvre in Paris, preferential prices, discounts and much more.
THE LOUVRE ABU DHABI OPENING
On the occasion of the opening, workshops, tours, music and international performances will take place during four days. Some of the artists part of the programme are – M -, Fatoumata Diawara and Ibrahim Maalouf.
Come and see humanity in a new light!
Discover #whyareyouyou. #theanswerinside
More information in https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/
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