The museum reflects on the past year as it celebrates the people, programmes and collection that make it the flagship museum of the Arab world.
Abu Dhabi, 11 November 2021: Today, Louvre Abu Dhabi celebrates its fourth birthday, reflecting on the achievements of the past year and its aspirations for the year ahead. Throughout the challenging climate of 2021, the museum drew from the strength of relationships with its lending partners to successfully open two international exhibitions – Abstraction and Calligraphy: Towards a Universal Language and Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds. The Children’s Museum also reopened with the interactive exhibitionEmotions! The New Art Adventure, aiming to help young museumgoers explore their emotions through art and activities. Furthermore, this year marked a new partnership with Swiss watchmaking brand Richard Mille to launch an annual exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here (opening next week), and the creation of The Richard Mille Art Prize. The museum has also emerged as a pioneer in the country’s education sector with numerous programmes that support educators and students, as well as training a new generation of Emirati museum professionals by providing a platform for unparalleled experience, research and collaboration.
In addition to regular international exhibition openings, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s rotation of new artworks — both loans and acquisitions joining the museum’s collection — means that there is always new art to see and new connections between artworks to discover. With more than 100 new artworks installed in the galleries for its anniversary, and the launch of a new Resource Centre and Research Laboratory, in its fourth year Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to play a leading role in the exciting and dynamic arts and culture ecosystem in the UAE.
H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to demonstrate a new model of what a museum can be, successfully serving both local and global audiences while its identity as an iconic institution remains firmly rooted in the emirate. The museum’s projects and achievements over the past four years have affirmed its position as an indispensable community hub and a landmark of the city. Taking every challenge as an opportunity to create something new for all audiences, Louvre Abu Dhabi has been integral to the strengthening of our cultural sector as Abu Dhabi’s creative and cultural offering continues to evolve and transform.”
Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “This past year has tested all of us in different ways. Through innovation and determination, the museum overcame the many challenges faced by all museums during the pandemic and remains steadfast in its mission to engage all visitors, safely, in exploring stories of universal cultural connections. Reflecting on the year, we give special thanks to our partners for their support as well as to the UAE community for engaging with us on many levels. From world-class exhibitions, drawing classes in the galleries and film screenings for the family, to fine dining, yoga and kayaking, there is truly something for every visitor at Louvre Abu Dhabi, and in the coming year we look forward to welcoming guests from near and far.”
NEW ACQUISITIONS AND LOANS – MORE THAN 100 NEW ARTWORKS TO SEE
The museum continues to distinguish itself among its peers with a curatorial approach dedicated to telling stories of cultural connections through a semi-permanent collection. The year has seen a rolling installation of new acquisitions and loans, with 56 new acquisitions having been installed leading up to the anniversary. These pieces originate from different cultures, geographies and time periods, and have been carefully selected to fit into the museum’s narrative.
Amongst the masterpieces acquired is Georges de La Tour’s A Girl Blowing on a Brazier, part of the small corpus of paintings attributed to the artist and which, until now, has been in private hands. Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Bolt, considered as one of the most famous paintings by the artist, is a symbol of the libertine spirit of the 18th century and reflects the state of mind adopted by the painters of the era. Visitors will be able to appreciate two new works by Auguste Rodin: The Call to Arms, which commemorates the Parisians’ courage in defending their city against the German invasion during the Franco-Prussian War, and Monument of Victor Hugo, a bronze sculpture cast on the 150th anniversary of Hugo’s death, based on a forgotten sketch of the artist. Three new iconic ukiyo-e prints by Katsushika Hokusai, exploring the rich tradition of Japanese print creation, are also on display.
Alongside these new acquisitions, 59 loans are displayed in conversation with other pieces in the museum. Exceptional artworks on loan from partner museums adorn the museum’s galleries. Claude Monet’s London, Houses of Parliament (Sun Breaking Through the Fog), and Pleasure Boats present two distinct periods within the artist’s career, whilst Edouard Vuillard’s Octagonal self-portrait is one of the major works from the post-impressionist movement. The Pink Dress (or View of Castelnau-le-Lez) by Frédéric Bazille is a beautiful painting representing his first cousin andThe Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle by Jackson Pollock portrays biomorphic forms, whimsical figures, and abstract ornaments in which viewers recognise the profile of a Native American wearing feathers, the performance of a dance, and a dagger. The extreme attention to detail typical of Dutch masters can be seen in Johannes Vermeer’s interpretation of the German and Italian Renaissance theme of Saint Jerome in his study in The Astronomer (or The Astrologer), as well as in Money Changer and his Wife by Quentin Matsys, a genre painting carrying a religious and moral message. Finally, Vassily Kandinsky’s Gelb-Rot-Blau represents one of the most important works of the Bauhaus period.
Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collection Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi was born out of the desire to present the world with stories of cultural connections, by bringing together artworks from different times and civilisations. The past four years have allowed us to forge lasting partnerships with many prestigious institutions, facilitating loans to supplement our collection. During this time, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection has grown considerably, with objects handpicked to fit into the museum’s narrative. Visitor experience remains at the heart of our work, and we hope to ensure that every one of our visitors comes away with a personal and unique experience after having explored the stories our galleries have to tell.”
RESOURCE CENTRE AND RESEARCH LABORATORY
Louvre Abu Dhabi is launching two leading research facilities: the Resource Centre and the Research Laboratory. The Resource Centre, open to the public from today, offers students, researchers, professors and the general public the opportunity to explore and learn about Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection. The new centre serves as a facility for materials relating to the documentation, study and preservation of the museum’s collection, whilst also supporting the museum’s research projects. Through digital resources, an extensive artwork database, and a library collection in continuous growth that to date offers almost 5,000 books on the museum’s collection and connected art history, the Resource Centre focuses on the exchange and circulation of art, as well as the history of collections and collecting. Resources are available in Arabic, English, and French, and follow an interdisciplinary approach to explore anthropological, historical, aesthetic, and technical connections from a global and cross-cultural perspective. The Centre is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm. Entry is free of charge and included in the museum’s admission ticket, but visitors also have the option of requesting complimentary entry to the Resource Centre at the ticketing desk.
The museum is also in the final stages of completing its Research Laboratory, the first scientific museum laboratory in the UAE. Scientists, curators, and conservators will have access to state-of-the-art research tools, dedicated to analysing the materials of artworks from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection. Aiming to be a major contributor to the development of research and knowledge sharing, Louvre Abu Dhabi will share the data obtained from various research analyses with the academic community through peer-reviewed articles, lectures and conferences. Both the Resource Centre and Research Laboratory will encourage future collaboration with local and international academic and cultural institutions on research projects, and support in building a community of researchers within the UAE.
UAE GOLDEN JUBILEE
Come December, Louvre Abu Dhabi will mark the country’s Golden Jubilee with a special display of artworks from the UAE which highlight the unity of the Emirates, as well as a series of public events. Artworks from the UAE spanning ancient times to the present day will be showcased throughout the museum’s permanent galleries. From artefacts on loan from neighbouring UAE institutions to Sharp Tools, a contemporary film from filmmaker and poet Nujoom Alghanem, these works form a collective testament to the rich history and achievements of the nation, which were realised through cultural sustainability and diversity. Works are on loan from nine national partners from the UAE including the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Museum, Dubai Municipality, Sharjah Archaeology Authority, Ajman National Museum, Umm Al Quwain National Museum and Ras Al Khaimah National Museum.
Museumgoers will also be able to witness the iconic dome transformed into an audio-visual installation reflecting the birth and development of the UAE, to mark the nation’s 50th Jubilee celebrations. Roller-skating sessions, organised in collaboration with Madrollers, will be organised over two days and will include a performance by DJ Bliss playing nostalgic tunes of the Arabian Gulf with a special twist. The music will be paired with the projection of archival images and videos (sourced in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media) of the UAE over the past 50 years using dynamic digital wall-mapping to give visitors the impression that they are skating through time.
Louvre Abu Dhabi has developed strong partnerships across the region including reciprocal loan opportunities that draw attention to the region’s rich history and heritage.
Since 2017, the museum has collaborated with leading regional museums and institutions, including The National Museum of the Sultanate of Oman, who have lent four works to Louvre Abu Dhabi, including a monetary treasure of 389 silver Dirham coins from the Abbasid Caliphate of Iraq dating back to the early Islamic period, a rare shell-shaped incense burner from the 12th – 14th centuries, and a vessel and a jar found at Sidamah (al-Waqba).
Louvre Abu Dhabi will, in turn, lend six 16th-century Iznik ceramics from the museum’s collection to The National Museum of Oman. These beautifully ornate ceramics will be on display in the Splendours of Islam Gallery from December 2021 to December 2022 in the exhibition Gardens of Paradise: The Language of Flowers in Iznik Ceramics. The exhibition explores the variety of floral motifs, naturistically depicted on the artworks, which constitutes a turning point in 16th-century Ottoman art and ceramic production.
In addition to the national UAE partners, additional regional partners include the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.
CULTURAL PROGRAMMING AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES
While digital activities and programmes continue to be available to different audiences through Louvre Abu Dhabi’s website, the museum has gradually resumed its onsite offerings. As a Mindful Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi promotes both physical and mental wellbeing. Visitor safety is the utmost priority, and every precaution is taken to ensure the welfare of all. From exhibitions, tours, workshops, and masterclasses, to kayaking, yoga sessions and film screenings, visitors can unwind whilst enjoying a wide range of activities.
Since its opening, the museum has engaged with the local community of students, artists, art enthusiasts, families, seniors, UAE nationals, People of Determination and more, providing educational and meaningful experiences. In the four years since opening, more than 8,600 activities and programmes have been designed and delivered to 487,000 people, including over 100,000 students who have participated in onsite and online educational activities, with more than 80% being Emirati students from government schools. Over 160 senior Emirati citizens, 400 People of Determination, 40 orphans, 90 patients and 7,500 teachers have visited the museum. Finally, more than 40 certified Louvre Abu Dhabi tour guides and Museum Educators now offer services in over 19 languages.