Text by Liju Cherian – Saadiyat Island was where we were headed to on a misty morning. The 22-km drive along the high way was to reach the island’s iconic location — Louvre Abu Dhabi. The Island houses the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets which include the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, all designed by Pritzker prize winners. An art and civilisation museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, was brimming with visitors from all over the world by the time we reached.
Born of collaboration between Abu Dhabi and France, Louvre is a universal museum that enables visitors to experience art and humanity in a new light. Master works by many of the world’s greatest artists are on display, which reveal threads of creativity that connect diverse cultures across thousands of years. The media team went around the galleries and learnt about the fascinating collection of objects and works of art spanning cultures and civilisations.
We explored Louvre’s greatest masterpieces and the architecture of the dome in an engaging thematic tour. Guided by a multimedia guide we used iPad minis to create the custom-made visit. The audio-guided tours help explore the museum’s collection and tell the story of the museum and its architecture. The fascinating collection of objects and works of art spanning time, cultures and civilisations left us amazed. Louvre offers different types of tours ranging from general, family, exhibition and others. A guide introduces you to select pieces from the collection, highlighting key elements of the architecture discussing the various museum professions. New seasonal tours are also proposed all year-round.
Louvre Abu Dhabi which opened to public on November 11, 2017 has 12 museum galleries. The museum contains many special facilities to accommodate the diverse needs of different visitors.
They also offer museum galleries with interpretation tools, extraordinary architecture, world-class exhibitions, a children’s museum and year-round cultural programme of performances, talks, films and more. Their new season, ‘Changing Societies,’ explores through four special exhibitions, the ways in which the arts have acted as witness to social change throughout history.
The collections at Louvre Abu Dhabi also include Omani artifacts which are loaned from National Museum Muscat.
The National Museum of the Sultanate of Oman and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the representative of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, signed an agreement on artifacts loan between the two museums in October 2017. As per the agreement, a selective collection from the National Museum is exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi for two years. This agreement supports the aims of the National Museum which includes promoting Sultanate’s rich culture and history, highlighting the cultural role of Oman through the ages as the bridge between the east and the west, and as a positive influence in the human civilisation.
The museum has about 4 wings and 12 galleries with the Omani artifacts placed in wing 2. During our visit we noticed monetary treasures discovered in Oman. These are called the Al Waqba hoard of 400 silver Dirhams discovered at Al Sidamah town of Oman in 1425 AH which lay hidden since the early Islamic period. Many of the coins are from the Abbasid Caliphate of Iraq as well as the Samanid and Saffarid Dynasty. The hoard gives an insight into the trade links at the time and the central role played by Oman during the period.
Yet another hoard is the one found at Al Sidamah town of Waqba village in Al Dhahirah Governorate. This glazed pottery has its origins from Southern Mesopotamia. There is also a hoard in a vessel from the same Al Sidamah town but is a soft stone. Finally there are incense burners from Al Baleed in Dhofar Governorate which is in a shell and crystallised incense. The vast majority of incense burners found at Al Baleed are either small square clay vessels with attached legs or larger round vessels with prominent decoration and external handles. On rare occasions, marine shells were used to burn incense. This follows an earlier classical tradition found in Al Baleed.
The Governorate of Dhofar is home to the frankincense tree Boswellia sacra. Presently, Louvre Abu Dhabi is having its first comprehensive exhibition on the history of luxury in the world titled ‘10,000 Years of Luxury.’ The expo is on until February 18 and explores the multifaceted nature of luxury from ancient times to the present day. Visitors explore luxury through fashion, jewellery, visual art, furniture and design with masterpieces from the collections of international institutions and brands.
Highlights among the 350 objects include the oldest pearl in the world, the renowned Boscoreale Treasure — one of the largest collections of silverware preserved from Roman Antiquity — and dresses and jewellery from design houses. The media trip was organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi as part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations. — Pictures courtesy: Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi