Louvre Abu Dhabi has opened its doors to the first visitors - Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Their tour comes less than two months before the official opening on November 11 and gave the Rulers a glimpse of some of the hundreds of treasures on display, and the chance to experience the building's "rain of light" created by its vast dome made of metal stars.
They were shown some of the first works to be installed, including an ancient statue of the Sphinx dating back to the 6th century BC, 13 fragments of a frieze detailing Surah Al Hashr from the Quran, and the bust of Alexander the Great on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris.
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was also introduced to some of the thousands of workers who have worked since 2013 to build what is described as the first universal museum in the Middle East.
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During the tour, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed were welcomed by officials including Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, and Saif Ghobash, Director General of TCA Abu Dhabi.
Also among the guests was Alia Al Mansoori, the 15-year-old winner of the Genes in Space competition, sponsored by The National, whose DNA experiment is being conducted on the International Space Station.
Louvre Abu Dhabi has so far acquired 620 works of art, including some important artworks on loan from 13 major French cultural institutions including the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in France.
The museum has also installed many site-specific pieces by contemporary artists in the outdoor areas. Three engraved stone walls named 'For Louvre Abu Dhabi', 2017, were created by American artist Jenny Holzer, citing important historical texts from Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, the Mesopotamian bilingual (Akkadian / Sumerian) Creation Myth tablet, and the 1588 annotated edition of Michel de Montaigne's Les Essais.
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Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker Prize. The museum's galleries and buildings echo a traditional Arabic town or medina, covered by the massive 180 metre wide dome which filters light to create a micro-climate and whose design was inspired by both mashrabiya carved window screens and the shadows cast by fronds of date palms at Al Ain oasis.