Louvre Abu Dhabi! A Visit To The Cradle Of History

Art. Culture. History.

louvre abu dhabi visit

More than 200 years after the opening of the Louvre Museum in Paris, a new Louvre has been opened in Abu Dhabi. Situated at Abu Dhabi – the capital of United Arab Emirates(U.A.E), the Louvre Abu Dhabi was a stunning sight to gaze at.

The entrance had a narrow passage with square pillars painted in white, casting its outline on the ground and people, when kissed by sunlight. I must say, it is a great spot to take a snap. The interior was designed in a contemporary fashion which suited the overall framework. Stupefying as it sounds, I was awestruck as I strolled around the museum.

Louvre architecture Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi

This Museum, located on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District of Abu Dhabi, designed by the architect, Jean Nouvel, was established on November 8, 2017. The museum is designed as a “seemingly floating dome structure”; its web-patterned dome allowing the sun to filter through. It is a museum of art and history that is part of a thirty-year agreement between Abu Dhabi and the French government. It is approximately 24,000 square meters in size, with 8,000 square meters of galleries, making it the largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula.

Louvre Abu Dhabi inside
Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Museum, Paris

Louvre Abu Dhabi is entirely different from the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. Housed in the Louvre Palace, it was established in 1793.

Louvre paris

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1. Ewers

Louvre artifacts Abu Dhabi
Ewer for Zamzam holy water, Ewer in Persian shape, Indian Ewer embellished in Italy.

The ewers are a large jug with a wide mouth, formerly used for carrying water for someone to wash in. Why are such similarities manifest in these ewers? Are they the result of stylistic influences? Or do they share something universal? These aren’t a thousand and one ways of pouring water. It requires balance and sets a rhythm. Free and impalpable water needs to be tamed and contained. The simple and precious life-giving water is glorified in ewers. There were ewers from Turkey, Southern China, India (Gujarat) and Italy.

louvre abu dhabi
Basin inscribed with the name of Bonifilius- Northern Italy around 1300.

Water, a symbol of purification is an element of major importance in the artistic expression of the great religions. During the middle ages, the Hindu purification in the Ganges, Christian baptism and Muslim ablutions were all accompanied by the production of ritual objects. Often commissioned by rulers, basins, ewers, aquamarines and fountain spouts exalt the importance of water and endow it with a powerful symbolism.

2. Dishes with solar decoration

louvre abu dhabi
Basin with central medallion-Italy and France around 1500

Dishes with solar decoration from France, Italy and Spain were fascinating utensils. According to certain myths, man was created on potter’s wheel. The spiral uncoils around the navel in a circular space. Radiating from a center, the spirals meet the rays of time. In turning around the axis, however, the story has neither beginning nor end, just as the earth has always revolved around the sun.

3. Monumental statue with two heads

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Monumental Statue with two heads-Jordan, Ain Ghazal about 6500 BCE

This bust with its two fascinating faces is one of the oldest monumental statues in the history of humanity. The pair of figures represents two ancestors or divinities. The statue reflects the beliefs that were held in the Neolithic village of Ain Ghazal, Jordan. These are made from plaster and bitumen for eyes.

4. Ramesses II, The Pharaoh of Egypt

louvre abu dhabi
Ramesses II, the pharaoh of Egypt-Tanis 1279-1213 BCE

Ramesses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt is shown in his conventional pose that indicates his role as Pharaoh. Seated on a throne inscribed with his name, he wears the royal headdress with a cobra (here broken). He also wears a false beard, an attribute of the Gods.

5. Man, the measure of the world in Greece

louvre abu dhabi
Athena, the protective deity of Athens-about 100 BCE

The epitome of Greek art, the classical sculpture of the 5th century BCE marked a turning point in the history of Western art. This defining moment took place in the city of Athens, which benefited from a democratic government that encouraged the development of literature, philosophy and arts. For the first time, representation of the human figure was at the center of all study. In a quest for realism and ideal beauty, artists strove to outdo one another, using increasing formal inventiveness to breathe life into bronze and marble.

6. The art of living in the Roman world

The reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus led to a period of peace and prosperity that would last almost two centuries. Across an immense territory, stretching from the shores of the Atlantic to Euphrates, Rome imposed its government, language and culture on the people of different languages, beliefs and customs. The Romanian elites of these lands largely embraced the same manner of living, reflected particularly in domestic life by construction of luxurious villas with sumptuous decoration and furnishing.

7. Chivalry and courtly art 

Artistic creation in the medieval West was strongly characterized by a religious dimension. An ideal image of chivalry also emerged in a variety of everyday non-religious objects. More precious items such as tapestries, illuminated manuscripts,devotional panels and caskets were used to display the status of rulers and illustrate the glory of kingdoms.

Louvre paintings abu dhabi
Tapestry of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar-biblical scene.
Southern Netherlands 1520

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Although this monumental tapestry illustrates a biblical story, the characters are dressed in the fashions of the early 16th century, the figure in blue on the left is the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The tapestry is typical of those produced in northern Europe at this time and this one is made from wool and silk.

8. Virgin and child

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Virgin and Child, Italy, Venice, 1480-1485.
Oil on wood

This image of the Virgin Mary with her son Jesus Christ was a central motif in the medieval Christian iconography. Full of emotions, the image was an essential reference during the prayers and devotions of the faithful. Seated on a throne symbolizing the “Seat of Wisdom” and protecting the Christ Child with maternal tenderness, Mary was considered an intercessor by believers.The gold background- a legacy of Byzantine art suggesting divine radiance-was later progressively abandoned in Western painting.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Virgin and Child
France, Normandy-about 1500

9. Heroism and history

The end of the 18th century was marked by the emergence of Neoclassicism, an artistic movement that reacted against the frivolity of the period and encouraged a return to the formality of classical Antiquity. Fueled by the ideas of the enlightenment, Neoclassicism was based on proportional harmony with the purpose of expressing eternal beauty and uplifting the viewer. Heroic models of the past were referenced to illustrate moral values and express new perspectives on the individual and society.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Ist Consul, crossing the Alps on 20 May 1800, Oil on Canvas

10. Gudea, Prince of Lagash

Gudea, Prince of Lagash
Neo Sumerian Kingdom, Iraq, Girsu-About 2120 BCE

Wearing a royal bonnet, his hands clasped at waist-level, Gudea is shown at prayer. This pious king ruled the state of Lagash in the south of Mesopotamia. He is known from the many statues of him carved in Diorite, a stone imported from the Oman Peninsula. about 2120 BCE.

11. Cuirass

Louvre, Abu Dhabi
France, Marmesse 1000-800 BCE

A Cuirass is a piece of armour consisting of breastplate and backplate fastened together. This Cuirass and its studded decoration emphasize the wearer’s physique to express the prestige and power of a warrior elite. Discovered in eastern France around 1000-800 BCE, it seems it was buried symbolically with eight similar Cuirasses.

12. Fountain of light

visit Louvre, Abu Dhabi
Fountain of light- Ai Weiwei
Germany, Berlin and China, Bejing, 2016

Fountain of light made from steel and glass crystals was created out of ten chandeliers made in China. This monumental construction takes the form of a Utopian Soviet monument that was never built. A reference also to the Tower of Babel, the work questions the notion of diversity and what is shared in our contemporary globalized world.

Louvre, Abu Dhabi
Self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh.
Louvre, Abu Dhabi
Orange Press “a+b”, Jean Tinguely, France, 1960- Metal, tricycle, wheels, orange juicer, bucket, wood, motor, fabric, wire
Louvre artworks
Standing Woman II
Alberto Giacometti, France, 1959-1960
Louvre facts
A section from a Quran, last volume, Juz’30, 1250-1300
ink, colour and gold on paper, leather binding
Louvre artworks
Reliquary cross containing a fragment of the True Cross, France, Limousin,1250-1275. silver, copper gilt, semi-precious stones.

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The museum had thousands of artefacts and paintings. It reflects the rich heritage and culture of different parts of the world. It mixes the ancient civilizations with the modern era.

How to reach Louvre Abu Dhabi?

Once you are in the Abu Dhabi city, travelling by car would be the best option. From the Zayed Port area( Mena Zayed) follow signs for Yas Island and take Shiekh Khalifa Bridge to Saadiyat Island. Follow road signs off Shiekh Khalifa Highway E12 to the Cultural District  Louvre Abu Dhabi. First exit after the bridge.

The ticket rates are affordable.  Admission gives you access to the Museum Galleries, Exhibitions, Children’s Museum and public places underneath the dome. If you are between 13 and 22 years, the ticket rate will be halved. Just bring the age proof along with you. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the museum.

It might not be possible for everyone to visit the Louvre in Paris. So this can be a  likely destination. If you are a fan of Dan Brown’s novels, I can assure that you won’t be disappointed.  For the people who love history and art, a mind-blowing experience is awaiting you.

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