The first museum of its kind in the Arab states, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a landmark arts and culture destination. Borne from a partnership with France, the museum showcases classic masterpieces and contemporary Arab art as well as highlighting the area’s multicultural heritage. A peek inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi shows that this is a very special institution that embraces local and international talent. The result is extremely progressive while honouring the Middle East’s rich heritage. Join us on our tour through this spellbinding museum.
The museum is a work of art in itself. Designed by esteemed French architect Jean Nouvel, the extra-terrestrial-shaped construct seemingly floats on water. Built on Saadiyat Island and bordered by lagoons, the museum’s unmistakable 180-metre domed roof is its centrepiece. Made from nearly 8,000 metal stars set in a geometric pattern, it allows shards of sunlight to enter, casting shimmering rays throughout the interior. Comprising 55 detached buildings, the gallery is a modern-day art medina, its smooth white cubist walls made from dry rock fashioned from sand. There’s even a marina for private yachts to moor up alongside it.
What can you see?
Inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a wealth of fascinating exhibits waits to be discovered. From Italian Renaissance paintings to ancient artefacts and radical new commissions, its collection is wide and varied. Many works come from its sister gallery in Paris and other prestigious museums, while others are resolutely Arabian. Running chronologically, each of the museum’s galleries tells the story of humanity in 12 chapters. Starting with ancient Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, the collections reach a crescendo with contemporary showstoppers like Ai WeiWei’s Fountain of Light.
Wandering through the museum’s light-dappled galleries, you’ll come across highlights like Leonardo da Vinci's La Belle Ferronnière—one of only 15 known paintings by the artist. It’s also host to a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh dated 1887 and Claude Monet’s The Saint-Lazare Station. Jacques-Louis David’s huge Napoleon Crossing the Alps is a must-see.
Those who appreciate contemporary art will adore the 21st century works stunningly displayed inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s modernist galleries. Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone's Leaves of Light—a bronze cast of a cherry tree with mirrors in its branches‚—cleverly captures and reflects the sunlight piercing by the museum's canopy. There are also pieces from blockbuster names such as Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly.
Aside from permanent collections, each year the Louvre Abu Dhabi hosts four temporary exhibitions co-organised with its French partners, meaning an ever-changing showcase of international talent. Sound is as important here as vision, with music and multicultural performances underpinning the creative output from the museum’s auditorium.
Are children welcome?
Absolutely. In fact, there’s a dedicated Children’s Museum inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi to entertain younger visitors. The two-floor space hosts exciting workshops to inspire mini imaginations, and there are also family-friendly art exhibitions to enjoy. Entirely ‘do not touch’-free, the Children’s Museum is totally interactive with lots of fun features to explore with little hands and feet.
If you’re inspired to take an arts and culture-filled trip to Abu Dhabi, a luxurious stay at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers is the perfect place from which to discover the city’s many highlights.