Since 2007 when the French government confirmed it would rent the name, art treasures and expertise of the Louvre to a new museum in Abu Dhabi, the prestigious institution has been at the heart of the discussions. The Louvre finally opened his doors in 2017, after ten years of construction.
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum showcases hundreds of works of art from around the world. Divided in twelve galleries, the Louvre tells the story of humanity, ranging from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary artworks. Since the project kicked off, the United Arab Emirates has already acquired 400 major works, operations that considerably stimulated the art market between 2007 and 2013, particularly at auction, as it has an annual purchasing budget of some $55 million over ten years.
The collection belongs to the museum but about 300 works are also rent to dozens of French state institutions (the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque Nationale, etc.) for a decade. This will give the new museum time to assemble a permanent collection. The ambition behind is to acquire high-quality works and build up a first-class collection worthy of international recognition.
Louvre Abu Dhabi hosts four temporary exhibitions per year, they will follow the same thematic approach as the permanent collections in the Museum Galleries, highlighting comparisons, influences and shared ideas across civilisations and cultures.
The prestigious institution will among others exhibit artworks from Pierre Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Ai Weiwei, Ibrahim el Salahi, Ahmad Ibn Majid, Piet Mondrian, William Henry Fox Talbot, Ibn al- Haytham …
Moreover, from September 2018, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi will be shown at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. People have been speculating on the purchase of this masterpiece, sold for $450 Million at Christie’s New York in November 2017. United Arab Emirates claimed that its own Department of Culture and Tourism bought it through a proxy buyer, whereas The New York Times reported it was purchased by a Saudi Prince. The mysterious Christ painting will be incorporated as a centrepiece of the collection.
Having an institution of this calibre on the doorstep will allow collectors and enthusiasts to gain a deeper understanding of art history; as the Middle Eastern art market already has an appetite for contemporary and 20th-century pieces. Moreover, United Arab Emirates hope the credibility it lends the region will have a positive impact for both buyers and sellers.