CULTUREWHAT'S NEW

A walk through Louvre Abu Dhabi

Designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a stunning architectural feat that invites you to see humanity in a new light. The exhibitions are arranged across 23 galleries in 12 sequences, organised in chronological order to draw deliberate parallels between different cultures. The sequences trace the passage of time under titles such as The First Villages, the First Great Powers, Asian Trade Routes, From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, The Magnificence of the Court and Challenging Modernity.

The collection of 600 pieces (around half of which are on loan) is carefully curated to trace the evolution of humanity in nations from across the globe so that walking through the galleries feels like travelling through time and space.

For history buffs, the gallery entitled The First Great Powers is sure to delight, particularly with its collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts. The star piece is undoubtedly a huge statue of Rameses II that seems to stand guard solemnly over the entire display from the centre of the room. The statue of the pharaoh is said to date back to the era between 1,279 and 1,213 BCE. Elsewhere, visitors can marvel at an ancient Egyptian coffin and mummy wrapping dating back to 950 BCE, along with a sphinx statue from 600 BCE with the body of a lion, the wings of a bird of prey and the face of a woman.

One of the highlights of Louvre Abu Dhabi is the gallery entitled Universal Religions, which houses a fascinating display of diverse religious art and texts. Visitors will find a 13th century Quran from Syria, a 15th century Torah from Yemen, a dancing Shiva statue from ancient India and a Gothic bible from 13th century France, all sharing the same space. The inclusion of this gallery in Louvre Abu Dhabi seems to signal a new era in the UAE’s cultural scene as it establishes itself as a positive force for tolerance and inclusion.

The opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi has given art lovers in the UAE access to some of the greatest masterpieces in the world. There is such a wealth of paintings by legendary artists on display, that it would be easy to miss something as you explore the various galleries. Keep an eye out for work by the likes of Whistler, Warhol, Magritte, Van Gogh and Da Vinci, who feature throughout the museum’s temporary and permanent collection.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is the culmination of a decade-long project and is the first ever branch of the famous French museum to be created and built outside of Paris. Thanks to a partnership with the original Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi’s newest icon will be able to use the Louvre name for the next 30 years. Among its displays is the mesmerising Civilisations and Empires gallery, pictured here, with its collection of artwork, relics and ruins. The fascinating display examines the ways in which different countries and cultures have evolved politically, with an emphasis on the heroes of ancient Rome and ancient Greece, such as Socrates and Alexander the Great.

As well as its permanent collection, Louvre Abu Dhabi also hosts at least four temporary exhibitions a year. The first contemporary art exhibition, currently on display until August 2018, is called Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir-Faire. The display is a creative collaboration between French artisans and local UAE artists, including Talin Hazbar, whose sculpture Transient: A Brief Stay can be seen here. The piece uses excavated archaeological materials to explore themes of travel, identity and impermanence.

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