ABU DHABI: The Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open its doors to the public in November, bringing to the Gulf Mesopotamian artefacts and post-impressionist masterpieces in the first Louvre-branded museum outside of Paris.

Housing 600 works of art, including 300 loaned by 13 French museums for the inaugural year, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is described as the “first universal museum” in the Arab world, reports AFP.

It will open to the public on November 11, French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said at a news conference on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

Among the works on loan to Abu Dhabi are Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere from the Louvre — which houses the world’s largest collection of art — and Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait from the Musee d’Orsay.

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel of France, the “museum city” is reminiscent of an Arab medina, enveloped by a part arabesque, part futuristic silvery dome that lets in the light in patterns mimicking leaves of the palm trees of the Gulf.

“I turned to the geometry of the Arab city because I am of the idea that a museum is much more a neighbourhood than a building,” Mr. Nouvel said. The planned opening comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed on a 30-year partnership initially reported to be worth $1.1 billion under which many top French museums will loan art to Abu Dhabi for 10 to 15 years.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is part of “a major cultural strategy” to promote the city as a patron of the arts in a region increasingly focused on soft power. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to attend the inauguration of the museum, which had originally been scheduled to open in 2012 but was pushed back after delays in funding and construction.


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