“Louvre Abu Dhabi”

United Arab Emirates: competitiveness and big cultural projects

Determined to exit from a “petrol only” economy, the United Arab Emirates have been backing, since 2007, the transformation of culture into a profit-yielding product. Massive investments, grandiose museum projects… Abu Dhabi and Dubai aspire to position themselves as cultural centres of a globalised 21st century while Sharjah is investing in less onerous projects. The three main emirates of the UAE federation don’t take the same approach when it comes to diversifying their economy. Nor do they have the same financial means. Abu Dhabi remains the most ambitious of the three, with its Saadiyat Island (literally, “Felicity Island”) complex created completely from scratch in the last decade. Thanks to colossal investments estimated at 25 billion euros according to The Financial Times, this emirate has constructed a district entirely devoted to culture, with no less than four big museums and a live arts centre, whose programming is set to rival with that of London or New York. On paper, the project looks attractive, but since 2007, only one museum has emerged from the sand, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, constructed by Frenchman Jean Nouvel. Apart from this museum, the building of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (Frank Gehry), the Zayed National Museum (Norman Foster) and the Maritime Museum (Tadao Ando) have also been scheduled. The Centre for Performing Arts was meant to be constructed by Zaha Hadid. With an opening long announced for 2013, then 2016, the Guggenheim had its preliminary works stopped in 2011 when thousands of concrete piers started being formed, following the repercussions of the Arab Springs, and a controversy surrounding the conditions of workers. To date, according to the press service of the Guggenheim Foundation, construction “has not yet begun”. The reason is an absence of any agreement with a construction company despite the launching of a call...

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No official opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi by French president

French president François Hollande has been stopped from officially opening the Louvre Abu Dhabi, whose construction has notched up a few technical problems. Its opening has now been postponed until November 2017. Originally, the museum was supposed to open in 2012. Work on the museum’s water basins and large cupola, designed by Jean Nouvel, has raised major obstacles for the project’s completion. The emirate has not however specified the reasons for the opening’s cancellation. François Hollande nonetheless wishes for a symbolic inauguration to be held before France’s next presidential elections in May...

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Manuel Rabaté becomes director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi

As reported in The Art Newspaper, Manuel Rabaté, head of the Agence France-Muséums since 2013, has been appointed director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. He also previously worked for the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. An Emirati, Hissa Al Dhaheri, who has supervised the Louvre Abu Dhabi project for the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, has been appointed deputy director of the institution. Designed by Jean Nouvel, this one billion-dollar building is set to open on the island of Saadiyat in the United Arab Emirates in one...

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Death of Pakistani worker at Abu Dhabi Louvre Construction Site

On 8 June, 2015, a Pakistani construction worker died at the construction site of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On 13 July was addressed to Agence France-Muséums (AFM) and Jean-Luc Martinez, Director of the Louvre, a letter from the Gulf Labor-created in 2011 by a group of artists and activists to denounce conditions of Gulf museum construction workers- demanded accountability for the improvement of the situation of workers employed on the Louvre site in Abu Dhabi, and the measures taken as a result of the accident. In response, AFM, who delegated the construction of the museum to the Tourism Development & Investment Company, has confirmed the death of the construction worker and announced that an investigation is currently underway. Construction of the Abu Dhabi Louvre, begun in 2010, is scheduled for completion this year on the Island of Saadiyat where it will fit alongside the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, in an immense cultural complex. The museum -whose budget is €83 million- was designed by architect Jean...

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France to lend 300 works to Louvre Abu Dhabi

From 13 museums and public establishments, around 300 works have been selected by France to be loaned for the opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, expected for 2015. The selection was overseen by TCA Abu Dhabi, the Agence France-Museums and the participating institutions, in accordance with the international demands and regulations for the transport and preservation of the works. It is for this reason that the duration of the loan of certain works has been limited to three months, to assure that the most fragile works are kept in good condition. The remaining works from French collections will be loaned for ten years, a period which is estimated by the experts at the Louvre Abu Dhabi to be the perfect amount of time to allow them to establish their own permanent collection. The works on loan are key pieces from French and international art history, from prehistoric artefacts to works of contemporary art. Amongst these are; La Dame bleue, a Chinese figurine from the 8th century, loaned by the Guimet Museum of Asian Art, Paris; a rare ivory salt holder from the Kingdom of Benin, loaned by the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; La Belle Ferronnière (around 1495) by Leonardo da Vinci, loaned from the Louvre in Paris; Bonaparte franchissant les Alpes (1803), by Jacques-Louis David, loaned by the Château de Versailles, Paris and Nature morte au magnolia (1941) by Henri Matisse, loaned by the Pompidou Centre, Paris....

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