French cultural minister praises ‘magnificent’ Louvre Abu Dhabi
Fleur Pellerin on Tuesday toured the Louvre’s building site on Saadiyat Island accompanied with Jean Nouvel, the museum’s architect.
Also with them were French ambassador Michel Miraillet, and Ali Al Hammadi, chief executive of the Tourism Development and Investment Company.
“It’s magnificent and unprecedented,” Ms Pellerin said from the viewing platform. “All these layers are stacked up to form such a work of art.”
The group was shown the completed steel frame of the dome and the mock-up galleries, which were built to fine-tune the practical application of Nouvel’s designs.
“When you look at the sample in the sun, it’s wonderful,” the architect said.
“When such a museum is built, all the parameters must be controlled. Such a museum isn’t just a building, it is some serious work.”
With the dome’s steel structure complete, work has started on the first layer of its cladding.
When finished, the dome will weigh up to 12,000 tonnes.
“It is progressing in a serious manner,” Nouvel said. “I come to Abu Dhabi about once a month and we can really see that the completion of the dome’s structure and the first layers of cladding being put in place.
“There is still work to be done, though, as there is the equivalent of two domes with four layers each, but I find that it’s going well.”
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which spans 9,200 square metres of art galleries, will include the 6,681sq metre Permanent Gallery, housing the museum’s permanent collection, from the most ancient to contemporary art from different civilisations.
“This is a project of cultural crossroads,” Ms Pellerin said.
“This universal museum has incarnated, through the presentation of its collection, a merging of cultures.
“It’s a platform and meeting point of civilisations, so I think this museum in itself will be a marvellous symbol of the role of that Abu Dhabi wants to play in terms of cultural influence.”
She said the Franco-Emirati cooperation surrounding the project was admirable.
“Firstly, the architectural concept is absolutely magnificent with its very impressive technical and technological feats,” Ms Pellerin said.
“Aesthetically, it will probably be impressive and will make its mark in the region.”
She said the Louvre’s architecture was a reflection of the way a traditional Arabic city was built.
“When you walk inside the rooms, the dome plays with the light and heat,” Ms Pellerin said.
“It provides shadows and a very dynamic use of light, which will change during the day, so it’s a very poetic concept of light use inside the building. It is very inspiring for people who manage museums in Europe because we inherit buildings that are hundreds of years old and we’re not able to have this freedom to design from scratch.”
She said the museum was symbolic as it said a lot about the mingling of cultures.
“It says a lot about the openness, the merging and dialogue of cultures, the tolerance and the place of religion in the dialogue of people,” Ms Pellerin said.
“I think it’s marvellous to attract tourists but also very symbolic to have a museum conceived this way, that will have this architecture and scientific approach and content, to have it here in the Middle East.”
Ms Pellerin’s visit coincided with the opening of Abu Dhabi Art, the capital’s leading art fair, which runs from November 5 to 8.
Updated: November 4, 2014 04:00 AM