The Abu Dhabi Louvre: A Future Universal Museum
A museum with a universal calling will open to the public in 2012, in the United Arab Emirates. It will be designed and built with France’s assistance, under an intergovernmental agreement signed on 6 March - a response of sorts to the challenge of cultural globalisation.
“Where cultures converse and civilisations are bridged”: the museum planned in Abu Dhabi, designed with France’s assistance, at the request of the United Arab Emirates, embodies cultural diversity in action, emphasised Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, at an address to the press, on 7 March. “A gesture against radicalism and fanaticism, through our presence”, through which works of art and the mind are brought to the broadest possible audience; a contribution to a “universal and humanistic” message of tolerance that France wishes to send out.
Spanning 24 000 m2, the museum, designed by Jean Novel, will display works from all periods, from the most ancient to contemporary times, and in all artistic fields. Its doors will open in late 2011 or early 2012.
The undertaking is also an opportunity for France, which will be able to showcase its expertise and know-how where museums are concerned. Signed for a thirty-year period, the agreement covers both the design and operation of the future establishment, with a vast agenda: developing a scientific and cultural project, assisting with the prime contractorship, training professionals, organising artwork loans, planning temporary exhibits and helping Abu Dhabi put together a high-level collection.
French museums to lend works of art
Until it can have its own collection, the museum will, for a ten-year period, benefit from works of art from French collections. They will come primarily from the Louvre, but also from other major national establishments, such as Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou and Versailles. Several hundred pieces representative of France’s artistic heritage will be lent to Abu Dhabi, on a rolling basis, for short periods of time.
The name “Louvre” will be used in a manner entirely respectful of the great museum that it is. The name is not a brand, but “a mission - that of a museum that has been universal since its inception in 1793, one that believes in its destiny to share its collections with the world”, observed museum Chairman Henri Loyrette. "In this part of the world, striving toward a universal museum is a real revolution".
An international agency for French museums, in the form of a public player encompassing skills from several national institutions, is to be founded in the near future to implement this complex undertaking. The agreement amounts to around 1 billion euros and will be used to directly finance major investments for French museums, without giving rise to any cuts in the State’s budget commitments. This will make it possible, for instance, to round out existing collections or create a national reserve and restoration centre.