Louvre Abu Dhabi celebrated its third anniversary today reflecting on its most innovative year to date and looking ahead to the future of the institution.
In the face of 2020s unprecedented adversity, the museum met the challenges borne of the global pandemic with agility and heightened creativity, commissioning its first short film, The Pulse of Time, and launching more than 20 new digital initiatives, drawing millions of visitors to its growing online community.
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fourth year promises to be equally dynamic, with the museum implementing fresh programmes and unveiling exciting new acquisitions and loans in its galleries.
Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi said: "The achievements of Louvre Abu Dhabi in three short years have made a remarkable impact on the emirate’s cultural scene. What began as an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France has now led to Louvre Abu Dhabi standing as a beacon for our community and the world, sitting at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s cultural offering. Looking back at the past year, I am particularly proud of the way we have adapted to the changing environment, bringing Louvre Abu Dhabi into the homes of millions of people through creative and educational digital initiatives that reflect the museum’s vision to showcase humanity’s cross-cultural connections throughout time.
“Culture provides us with the ability to expand the mind and define the world we live in, and our ongoing acquisitions of exceptional new artworks for the museum’s growing collection aim to continuously offer visitors a fresh glimpse of the vast history of human creativity. In these unprecedented times, that feeling of interrelatedness, of being part of something larger than ourselves, is more important than ever. Louvre Abu Dhabi and its universal message remain a linchpin of Abu Dhabi’s mission to find unity in diversity and make culture a key part of our everyday lives."
Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi said: “In just three years since we welcomed the first visitors through Louvre Abu Dhabi’s doors, I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished. This past year has certainly been defined by the creation of new opportunities from great challenges. From the very inception of the museum, our mission has been to celebrate stories of cultural connections, to help visitors find common threads through art, across cultures, geographies, and time. This purpose has never been more relevant, as we look to new roles and models of what a museum can be. The acquisitions and loans now on view in our galleries are a testament to the strength of our partnerships— from the heart of this region, to Paris, and around the world —continually helping us to create moments of discovery and reward curiosity in each of our visitors. We are eager to welcome you back to our galleries, whether physically or virtually, and we hope you will all join us in celebrating this third anniversary.”
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s curatorial strategy is to tell stories of cultural connections—a form of empathetic viewing that we need now more than ever. These connections are expressed through the juxtaposition of works across cultures, geographies, and time.
As part of the museum’s third annual rotation of artworks in the galleries, masterpieces on loan from Musée d'Orsay include, Edgar Degas’ The Bellelli family (1858-1869), Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Railway bridge in Chatou (1881), Vincent Van Gogh’s The caravans, a bohemian camp (1888), Claude Monet’s Haystacks, end of summer (1891), Eugène Louis Gillot’s The Arrival of the "La Fayette" in New York (early 20th century), Osman Hamdi Bey’s Old man before children's tombs (1903) and Pierre Bonnard’s Southern setting, Le Cannet (1928).
Alongside these, the museum has installed a number of maps and precious 14th – 18th century manuscripts loaned by Bibliothèque nationale de France. The manuscripts from Syria, France, Egypt, India and Iran of sacred and scientific texts include scriptures from the foundations of the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Several new acquisitions are joining Louvre Abu Dhabi’s growing permanent collection, including a number of artefacts in the earlier chapters of the museum’s chronological timeline of human creativity.
Sumerian Statue of a Female Worshipper (3rd century Mesopotamia), adds to the discourse on religious beliefs in the museum’s introductory gallery and will go on display alongside Egyptian Statue of a Kneeling Man (ca. 4th-7th century Egypt).
A Jain sculpture of a Standing Jina (11th century India) is a new addition to the museum’s gallery exploring Asian trade routes, and the exceptional new Feline-shaped Incense Burner (11th century Central Asia) stands head to head with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s renowned Lion-shaped aquamanile (13th century Northern Germany).
Throughout the coming months, visitors will also be able to discover a number of new acquisitions in the later chapters of the museum’s path, including The Adoration of the Magi by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (ca. 1523), a biblical portrait of Saint-Joseph (also called Lo Spagnoletto) by Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera (before 1647), a series of Eight Paintings of Foreign Dignitaries by an anonymous artist (18th century China), as well as Marc Chagall’s exquisite Between Darkness and Night (1938-43).
Dr Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collection Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi said: “The past three years have enabled us to research, refine, and develop the cross-cultural threads that underpin the stories of cultural connections told within our permanent galleries. The dynamic nature of our presentation, enabled by the acquisition of exceptional art works, and the continued quality of new loans from our partners, consistently provides our audiences with something new to see.
“Diversity and universality remain at the heart of our collection, and we are so proud to have been able to engage new audiences by adapting to a hybrid model of physical and virtual presentation that will benefit us for years to come.”
Existing loans from regional partners have been renewed for the coming year and the expansion of the regional cooperation remains a priority for Louvre Abu Dhabi. In the third year, the regional partners of Louvre Abu Dhabi include: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Dubai Municipality, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum, Department of Antiquities and museums of Ras Al Khaimah, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the National museum of Oman and the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 2019 loan of The Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece (16th century Flanders) to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York represented a major step in the international recognition of the collection.
This piece was part of the exhibition The Last Knight organised at The Metropolitan Museum of Art between October 2019 and January 2020.
Another loan from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection included the Samovar by Joseph Hoffman (1904 – 1905) to Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ (MAD) Luxes exhibition in Paris. The artwork was originally presented to the public in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 10,000 Years of Luxury exhibition in 2019.
Through its programme of temporary exhibitions in collaboration with Agence France-Muséums and French partners, Louvre Abu Dhabi was also able to borrow major artworks from international lenders (Chester Beatty library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Furusiyya Art Foundation) for the exhibition Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry Between East and West (February – October 2020).
THE PULSE OF TIME
To mark its third-year anniversary, Louvre Abu Dhabi will premiere its first original short film, The Pulse of Time, a 40-minute audio-visual journey bringing to life a story of humanity through art.
The film’s compelling storytelling, videography and original music composition takes viewers on an immersive journey via the 12 chapters of the museum’s galleries. It explores the history of human creativity through more than 200 artworks, revealing stories of cultural connections from pre-history to contemporary times.
The film is narrated by well-known figures in three languages—Arabic, by Emirati producer, TV presenter and actor Saoud Al Kaabi, known for his role in the Emirati film City of Life (2009); English, by British actor, screenwriter, and film director Charles Dance, known for playing Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones (2011); and French, by French-Swiss actress Irène Jacob, known for her role in Three Colours: Red (1994). The sound creation was commissioned and jointly produced by Alexandre Plank, Radio Producer for the French National Radio channel France Culture and two-time winner of the PRIX ITALIA international competition for radio and TV, and Antoine Richard, winner of the same prize.
Following the premiere on Louvre Abu Dhabi’s YouTube channel, The Pulse of Time will be available on the Louvre Abu Dhabi website from November 12.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is continuing to bring its collection and its programmes online, with 120 artworks digitised and available for audiences around the world to discover. In response to the temporary physical closure of the museum galleries this spring, 22 new digital projects and platforms were launched in 2020, including:
*WE ARE NOT ALONE, an audio-visual podcast by Soundwalk Collective;
*A collaboration with music streaming service, Anghami, to curate playlists inspired by the museum’s collection;
*A 360-degree virtual exhibition tour of “Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry between East and West”; and
*A webinar for Art for Health & Wellbeing on October 22.
New, tailored activities for seniors, students, families, People of Determination, such as:
*A series for Senior Emiratis that brought objects from the collection to life over Zoom;
*YouthSpeak, a quarterly engagement series for school children from the UAE and France to correspond through virtual conversations about the museum’s universal narrative and collection; and
*Activities for children and families including an eight-week summer programme of community art challenges, that engaged over 24,000 participants online and a “Make and Play” series, which saw more than 17,000 downloads.
Despite its closure this spring, the museum reopened in June under the premise of being a “mindful museum”, working hard to keep its visitors safe and to offer them a comforting and relevant experience in difficult times. In July, Louvre Abu Dhabi partnered with VPS Healthcare, stationing nurses at the museum to oversee the thermal screening areas and support risk mitigation of Covid-19 by conducting regular audits to ensure that the museum was in compliance with the recommended safety measures and guidelines.
Louvre Abu Dhabi received the Department of Culture and Tourism’s Go Safe Certification for demonstrating the highest level of health and safety standards.
Since the reopening, new offers for free admission to the museum have been extended to the pandemic’s frontline workers, school teachers, taxi drivers, and youths under 18, with additional discount offers to partners and government employees.
Outreach to local audiences through new onsite activities continues to be paired with digital initiatives. In addition to its Art Club and Teachers Pass membership, the museum has also launched a Youth Pass to cultivate loyalty and grow its younger community.
Louvre Abu Dhabi received numerous official visits from Heads of State and ministers in its third year, representing countries including the USA, France, Japan, Greece, Mexico, Belgium, Fiji, Slovenia, South Korea, Luxembourg, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. The museum welcomed many celebrities, who came to experience the museum’s iconic architecture and impressive global collection. In November 2019, Louvre Abu Dhabi hosted a French delegation for the official naming of a street after former French President Jacques Chirac.
Louvre Abu Dhabi seeks to be a thought-leader in defining how museums go about agilely adapting to new needs of audiences. Co-convened with Saadiyat Island neighbouring institution NYU Abu Dhabi from November 16 to 18, 2020, the virtual symposium, Reframing Museums, comes at a time when the future of museums as well as arts and culture institutions around the world are being re-examined. The symposium will harness the collective contributions of global scholars, academics, artists, and international museum experts to discuss, interrogate, and reimagine the art museum of the future. Together, attendees will explore the three institutional pillars that typically define museums: Collections, Building/Site, and People.
FOUQUET’S & MARTA BAR
Fouquet’s, one of Paris’ most iconic restaurants, made its Middle Eastern debut at Louvre Abu Dhabi in February 2020. A symbol of French hospitality, the classic Parisian brasserie has found the perfect home at the art museum on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.
Just above Fouquet’s, marrying effortless elegance with laid-back luxe, is Marta Bar, a picture of Parisian perfection. During the day, afternoon tea is served.-- Tradearabia News Service