What the visitor's guide doesn't tell you about getting the best of the world's most exciting new museum
Ready to visit Louvre Abu Dhabi? Don't forget to bring a woolly jumper and some comfy shoes
Louvre Abu Dhabi is ready for its first visitors, but are you ready for Louvre Abu Dhabi?
With the media allowed a sneak preview of the museum four days before the official opening, it's clear that both the building and collection will be a massive draw for visitors.
But to make the most of your visit, here are a few tips that you might find useful to enjoy it to the full.
First of all, it’s a really cool museum. And I mean cool, if not cold. Even some of the security staff were wearing coats on press day. Indoors.
The air-conditioning is no doubt essential to preserve the priceless and fragile works of art, but if you’re the type that takes a woollen jumper or a pashmina to the movies in the UAE, you’ll probably want to do the same here.
Come prepared for the long haul. To visit all 12 galleries properly is going to take several hours, so comfy shoes might be a good idea. Also take notice of the bathrooms, since there are only three once you enter the gallery section. Galleries 3, 6 and 10 are the numbers to remember, if you need a break. There's also free map you can pick up at the entrance.
There’s not a lot of seating in many of the galleries, so take advantages of the vestibules in between them, with plenty of places to rest weary legs.
Despite its scale and size, Louvre Abu Dhabi is surprisingly intimate when it comes to the works of art.
If you’ve visited the Louvre in Paris, you’ll know seeing the Mona Lisa can be both a depressing and disappointing experience.
Leonardo’s masterpiece is protected by a barrier and a sheet of bullet proof glass, not to mention selfie-taking tourists by the hundred. It's like looking at a postage stamp during rush hour on the London Underground.
Louvre Abu Dhabi has another rare work by Da Vinci; his La Belle Ferronniere, which is on loan from Paris for the next year.
You can gaze into her eyes from a few inches, and study every detail of the technique of one of the world’s greatest artists without anyone spoiling the experience. If you arrive at quiet time, it just might be the two of you tête-à-tête.
Most of the works in the Abu Dhabi museum invite close inspection. Several of the sculptures almost call on you to reach out and touch. Don’t, or the security staff will have something to say.
We also anticipate that watching small children and their instinct to clamber, will be one of the challenges for parents and staff alike in the first weeks and months.
If you are taking younger members of the family, remember that the Louvre Abu Dhabi has its own children’s museum, included in the ticket price, and with lots of hands on activities.
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Watch out also, for the hidden corners in many galleries. There are many gems not immediately obvious at first, so check behind those walls and alcoves for more unexpected treasures. Also take time to notice the little details in each gallery, from the unique glass skylights to the different stones used for the floors.
It’s also clear that the museum and the collection are two very distinct visitor experiences, so make time for both. Experiencing architect Jean Nouvel’s rain of light under the dome is as unmissable as catching Whistler’s Mother.
Everyone should take time out at the main plaza where a wide flight of steps runs down to a clear pool of seawater. It’s also right next to the museum café, if you need to refresh the body as well as the soul.
Finally, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop - sorry la boutique - on your way out. There’s a huge selection of items for all pockets, many with a definite French je ne sais quoi. And with the holiday season coming up, a souvenir of the world’s most anticipated new museum could be a gift to remember.