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What collections will be inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

A glimpse of some of the artistic treasure that will form the Louvre Abu Dhabi

She is 170 years old, a misty figure of a woman whose face is further obscured from the photographer by her veil.

Entitled simply Ayoucha, the daguerreotype by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey is the earliest known photographic representation of a veiled woman.

The picture, taken on a tour of the Middle East in 1843, is one of the acquisitions for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The first visitors will not be admitted for another two years but the museum is already offering glimpses at what looks to be a world-renowned collection.

It is three years since the museum revealed its first artworks, showing 29 pieces in an exhibition at Emirates Palace in the summer of 2009.

They included a 14th century Quran, a 1,500-year-old Chinese Buddha and a near-perfect amphora from ancient Greece.

From Europe came a 16th century sculpture of Jesus, two paintings by the French artist Edouard Manet, which formed part of a larger canvas, and another abstract from Piet Mondrian.

Together, the works were described as "a symbol of what Arabia has always been - a crossroads between East, West, North and South".

The idea of Louvre Abu Dhabi symbolising the city's role as a bridge between east and west is amplified on the website for the Saadiyat Island cultural district, which is described as "a place where diverse and far-flung parts of the world can meet to exchange ideas and culture".

This philosophy is reflected in the structure of the museum, which show works chronologically, rather than separated into civilisations or historical periods.

This approach continues with the latest series of acquisitions, announced last September. These included a 3,000-year-old sculpture of a Bactrian princess, an early Ottoman fountain, a Breton Boys painting by Paul Gauguin and a Magritte from 1928, The Subjugated Reader.

Under the terms of the agreement signed with the French authorities, the museum is borrowing about 300 works from the Louvre in Paris while adding to the Abu Dhabi collection with new purchases.

In the lead up to the opening, the Louvre is engaging with residents. Its Talking Art Series at the Manarat exhibition space on Saadiyat Island is a selection of lectures by academics that continues until June.

By then, the city will have been given an even more tantalising glimpse of what is to come. Expected to open in April on Saadiyat, the Birth of the Museum exhibition will feature the latest acquisitions and perhaps a look at new treasures as yet unseen.

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