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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Largest display of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection to be unveiled in Paris

More than 160 items will be showcased as part of the Birth of a Museum exhibit in the Louvre's Napoleon Hall starting from May 2.
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed with the French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti at the original Birth of a Museum exhibition. Courtesy TCA Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed with the French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti at the original Birth of a Museum exhibition. Courtesy TCA Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI // More than 160 masterpieces from the Louvre Abu Dhabi are to go on show for three months at the Louvre in Paris.

The Birth of a Museum exhibition follows one of the same name last year at Manarat Al Saadiyat, and is intended as a preview of next year’s opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the new cultural district on Saadiyat island.

Among the works being exhibited in Paris are a statuette of a standing Bactrian princess from the late third millennium BC and a Middle Eastern gold bracelet from about 3,000 years ago. More recent pieces include an early 1878 version of the Ottoman-era Turkish painter Osman Hamdi’s A Young Emir Studying, and Children Wrestling by the French artist Paul Gauguin from 1888.

There will also be a work by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian that was previously part of the Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge Collection, a painting by the American sculptor Alexander Calder and nine canvases by the contemporary American artist Cy Twombly.

“This is a significant milestone for Louvre Abu Dhabi that translates an important moment of history when the UAE and France have collaborated and shared a vision enabling this achievement to be realised,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

“The introduction to audiences outside Abu Dhabi provides an insight into the concept of Louvre Abu Dhabi and the museum as a place of cross-cultural dialogue and exchanges.”

Hissa Al Dhaheri, project manager for Louvre Abu Dhabi, said the exhibition would continue the museum’s efforts to engage the public with its collection and show the “universal” concept behind it.

It will “create a sort of anticipation for the opening of the museum, giving us a taste of what the museum concept will be like,” she said.

The new exhibition will be curated by Vincent Pomarède of the Louvre in Paris, Laurence des Cars, director of the Orangerie art gallery in Paris, and Khalid Abdulkhaliq Abdulla, assistant curator for the original Birth of a Museum exhibition. It will take place in the Louvre’s Napoleon Hall in Paris from May 2 to July 28.

An agreement between the French and Abu Dhabi governments in 2007 led to the creation of Louvre Abu Dhabi. The museum will display a permanent collection and works on loan from major French institutions, with manuscripts and historical, cultural and sociological items as well as art.

The Abu Dhabi team is expanding and training Emirati staff in preparation for the opening. A one-to-one mockup of one of the museum’s galleries is complete and workers are assembling a dome for the construction site.

Staff hope the exhibition shows how the Louvre Abu Dhabi differs from other museums, including the Louvre in Paris.

“We like to call ourselves truly universal,” Ms Al Dhaheri said. Exhibits will be displayed in a way that eliminates barriers between categories to “allow visitors to draw connections” between the works, she said.

The museum will feature pavilions, plazas, alleyways and canals, under a shallow, light-diffusing dome with a diameter of about 180 metres. The collection will represent all regions and periods, including contemporary art and art history.

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