x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Extra month for Louvre's fully booked exhibition

Tours to see some of the exhibits for the new Abu Dhabi museum have proved so popular that the show is being extended until August.

The Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibition at the Emirates Palace hotel has been extended due to its popularity.
The Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibition at the Emirates Palace hotel has been extended due to its popularity.

ABU DHABI // An exhibition showing a taste of the artworks that will be displayed in Abu Dhabi's Louvre museum has been extended for a month after being fully booked since its opening. Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi at the Emirates Palace hotel will continue until August 29, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) said yesterday. Tours that take groups of about 30 around the exhibition twice a day have been "consistently booked", it said.

"The public's response to [the exhibition] has been tremendous," said Rita Aoun, the TDIC's director for culture. "We are heartened by the extraordinary turnout of visitors." The exhibition, which began on May 26, was originally intended to run until the beginning of July. The free 90-minute tours, which start at 11am and 6.30pm daily, begin with a film detailing the building on Saadiyat Island, designed by Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect.

The building's roof weaves together an Islamic pattern of eight- and 16-pointed stars, letting pillars of light spear down into the gallery, where they sparkle on the surfaces of small reflective pools. The 29 works of art on display are designed to be a "preparation and introduction" for what will be on display at the museum, according to the organisers. The exhibition includes several works by Manet, an oil painting by Cézanne and a bold composition from the 1920s Dutch artist Piet Mondrian bought from the personal collection of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent.

"Together these works illuminate the artistic and cultural interrelationships that are at the heart of the Louvre Abu Dhabi," the TDIC said yesterday. The collection, which ranges from the 6th century BC to the 20th century, includes works from countries as diverse as China and France, and also spans world religions, with sculptures of Buddha and Jesus, and an inscribed Mameluke Quran. Rose Freeman, 52, an Australian midwife visiting the exhibition with her family yesterday, said she particularly liked the painting Madonna and Child by Giovanni Bellini, the Italian Renaissance artist.

"You just turn a corner, and it is right there," she said. "It's great that we don't have to go to Paris for the art. It's all here." Her husband said he was impressed by the religious diversity on display. "I liked the figure of Christ actually. I was surprised that it was here," he said. "I thought it may cause conflict of beliefs or a challenge. It's good to see it." Ms Aoun said the educational events that have been running alongside the exhibition, which include round-table discussions, briefings for teachers and children's workshops, had also had an "extraordinary turnout". Two-hour workshops for children aged 11 to 16 are offered every Monday from 10am; participants are encouraged to create their own works inspired by the themes of the exhibition, using different art techniques.

Initial construction on the Louvre site started in January. The groundbreaking ceremony, attended by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, was held in May. The 24,000-square-metre museum will sit alongside a branch of the Guggenheim museum, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum and a Maritime Museum on Saadiyat Island, central to the Government's aim of putting Abu Dhabi on the map as a centre for arts and culture. The first museums in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District will open in 2012-13.

Admission to all exhibition events is free of charge, but should be booked in advance, either by phone on 02 690 8230, or by e-mail to artsabudhabi@tdic.ae. lmorris@thenational.ae * With reporting by Asma al Jeelani