First Published: 2017-11-07

Louvre Abu Dhabi, where Matisse meets George Washington
Museum, aiming to tell story of world’s civilisations, expects to welcome around 5,000 visitors in its first days upon public opening on November 11.
Middle East Online

A star attraction is Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere"

ABU DHABI - Nested under a dome with geometric arabesque patterns and appearing to float on water, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is now home to Matisse, Mondrian -- and George Washington.

The abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko hangs a few steps away from Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and a portrait of George Washington in 12 "chapters", or galleries, in the Emirati capital.

Other galleries are dedicated to artifacts from China, Iraq and DR Congo, among others, aimed at telling the story of the civilisations and religions of the world.

The museum expects to welcome around 5,000 visitors in its first days which start with the public opening on November 11, according to Mohammed al-Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism Authority.

"Because this is an international museum, we're expecting visitors from around the world," Mubarak said during a media tour ahead of the inauguration ceremony to be held on Wednesday.

"So a museum visitor from China will find something that speaks to her, to her history. A visitor from India will find the same."

On an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the galleries sit inside low-roofed white structures, reminiscent of an Arab "medina", surrounded by water that flows between the museum buildings.

In one gallery -- or chapter -- is a dark, quiet room home to a leaf from the Blue Qu'ran, a ninth century manuscript with gold lettering on blue parchment.

Right next to the koran sit a 1498 Yemeni Pentateuch, the first book of the Jewish Torah, and two volumes of a Gothic bible bound in calfskin going back to the 13th century.

A star attraction, according to organisers, is Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere," the portrait of an unknown woman, which is on loan from the Louvre in Paris.

And on your way out is Ai Weiwei's 23-foot-high "Fountain of Light," a spiralling structure draped in crystals inspired by communist plans for a massive monument that never actually saw the light of day.

The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to carry the famed art brand outside of France, comes after a more than five-year delay.

The launch comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed to a 30-year partnership reportedly worth $1.1 billion, including nearly half a billion dollars for the rights to the Louvre brand alone.

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to attend the inauguration on his first visit to the United Arab Emirates since taking office in May.

 

Libya to investigate 'slave auction' footage

Iraq top court declares Kurd referendum unconstitutional

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

15 women killed in food aid crush in Morocco

Rare moments of joy at Arabs’ unprecedented World Cup qualifications

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues

Lebanon FM will not attend Arab League Iran summit

Syrian forces liberate Albu Kamal from IS

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syria

Libya to investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

Piece by piece, Iran moves towards a ‘new empire’

Netanyahu faces new questioning over corruption case

Syria troops, allies retake most of Albu Kamal from IS

EU cuts funding to Turkey in 2018 budget

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris

Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal

US-Russia rift threatens fragile prospects for Syria peace

'Caliphate' in tatters but IS still a threat

Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Berlin over Gabriel Lebanon comments

Russia again vetoes renewal of Syria gas attacks probe

UN weighs bid to save Syria gas attacks probe

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

Saudi FM says Lebanon 'held hostage by Hezbollah'

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days

Turkish troops pulled from NATO drill amid new tensions

Six children among civilians killed in shelling of Eastern Ghouta

US official calls on Sudan to stop 'church demolitions'

Hariri set to leave Saudi Arabia for France

Fears of bombs, IS cells still haunt Mosul

Iraq retakes Rawa, last town held by IS

Riyadh striking deals with people detained in anti-graft purge

Iran criticises French Mideast policy

Russia again blocks UN resolution on Syria action

Israel military chief says ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia

Egypt confirms death of wanted jihadist

UK denies link between citizen detained in Iran and £400m debt