Like an oasis in the desert, the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi opens its doors to the public on 11 November, placing the United Arab Emirates’ capital well and truly on the international cultural map. Designed by French starchitect Jean Nouvel, a galactic domed roof – whose intricate lattice-work is created from a complex geometric arrangement of stars and can be seen to represent the multi-layered narrative explored in the exhibition halls below – marks the moment where the museum meets the ocean. Standing at just 100-feet tall and in direct contrast to structures that sketch the skyline of its new home, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s diminutive height makes it a place of convergence, where horizons – both physical and figurative – meet and where dialogue and expression abound.
Described by Nouvel as a museum city or medina, the 70,000-sq-ft site connects 55 room-sized buildings and unites elements of traditional Arabic design with a contemporary sensibility, befitting a foundation that bears the name of one of the most famous cultural establishments in the world. Its permanent collection is equally impressive, comprising more than 600 artworks and artefacts, ranging from ancient Egyptian antiquities, such as the sarcophagus of Princess Henuttawy, to works by Leonardo da Vinci, Jackson Pollock and Ai Weiwei, while a inaugural special exhibition entitled From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone will open on 21 December and trace the history of the Musée de Louvre in Paris.
Daylight shines through the lattice-work domed ceiling, which is made up of 7,850 metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern
Louvre Abu Dhabi as seen from the sea
One of the many exhibition spaces inside Louvre Abu Dhabi
The inaugural installation explores the history of humanity through 12 chapters, including this one: Civilisations and Empires
Leonardo da Vinci's La Belle Ferronière
Modern masters hang in the Challenging Modernity room
Feature image: Louvre Abu Dhabi, photography: Mohamen Somji
Architecture images: Louvre Abu Dhabi – photography Roland Halbe
Collection images: Louvre Abu Dhabi – photography Roland Halbe