A collection spanning civilisations, from ancient to the present, is another major milestone for the first Universal museum in the Arab world
HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council on a guided tour of the Birth of a Museum exhibition alongside French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti.
Abu Dhabi, 22 April 2013: Birth of a Museum, the first large-scale presentation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi's permanent collection, was opened last night by HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council in the presence of a host of dignitaries including His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, TCA Abu Dhabi's Director General, HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Louvre Abu Dhabi's architect Jean Nouvel, Jean-Luc Martinez, the newly appointed President-Director of the Musee Du Louvre as well as his predecessor Henri Loyrette in addition to Directors of museums from all over the world. The exhibition is open from 22 April until 20 July, 2013 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, the art exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island and showcases 130 artworks reflecting the universal narrative of the museum.
Works include ancient artifacts from all over the world – including Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Mali - showcasing the breadth of great civilisations and illustrating links arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.
Key historical moments are encapsulated through works such as: Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey's Ayoucha from 1843 Cairo (depicting the oldest known photograph of a veiled woman); a tile of arabesque patterns from the Ottoman Empire (c. 1570); and a silk painting from Japan's late seventeenth century, together with a delicate section of pages from the Holy Qur'an and Suras, believed to be from Syria's late thirteenth century.
Paintings by Paul Gauguin (Children Wrestling, 1888) and René Magritte (The Subjugated Reader, 1928) are in dialogue with works by Giovanni Bellini and Édouard Manet, as well as contemporary art works by Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Yves Klein and Cy Twombly. All works and artists have been carefully chosen to present a singular and original reading of the history of art, built around several key artistic and aesthetic questions core to the identity of the new museum. Louvre Abu Dhabi and its collection are owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi.
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TCA Abu Dhabi said during the opening which welcomed hundreds of VIPs: “We reflect on what has been achieved over the last few years in establishing the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Birth of a Museum echoes Abu Dhabi's historical and geographical position and we hope this growing universal collection continues bridging civilisations, celebrating diversity and connecting cultures.”
Henri Loyrette, President of the Scientific Council of Agence France Museums (AFM) and former President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, said: “This exhibition is a major milestone in the realisation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi so far as it unveils the admirable and high quality of the art works that will reflect the heart of the future Museum's permanent collection. Moreover, this exhibition will embody remarkably the essence of the forthcoming birth of this universal museum.”
Jean-Luc Martinez, the newly appointed President-Director of the Musée Du Louvre, made his first international visit to Abu Dhabi for the opening. This trip is emblematic of his significant commitment to the project, which constitutes one of the top priorities of his upcoming mandate and policy.
A book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date is published and will be launched in parallel with the exhibition. This book also tells the story of the creation of the institution and the way in which a collection of exceptional quality is assembled for a museum that will mark the twenty-first century.
HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of TCA Abu Dhabi said: “Birth of a Museum translates the commitment of Abu Dhabi to create a museum collection that will reflect the cultural ambitions of our city and its leaders.”
As with all exhibitions organised in preparation for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, Birth of a Museum is supported by a diverse cultural programme of talks, tours and workshops.
The general curator of Birth of a Museum is Laurence des Cars with the support of a Louvre Abu Dhabi team from AFM and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. The museography for the exhibition was completed by architect Jean-François Bodin.