Explore The Abu Dhabi Louvre
You’ve heard of the Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited and most famous museum. But did you know that there’s actually another Louvre?
Abu Dhabi paid the French government more than £350 million just for the right to use the name for 30 years. The museum cost another £500 million to build, and with other fees the total comes to £1 billion.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 2017 on Saadiyat Island and is well worth a visit, both for the extraordinary way it looks from the outside and the famous artworks inside.
You’ll be amazed at the museum’s architecture. While the Paris Louvre has its iconic glass pyramid, you’ll find the Abu Dhabi building features a dome which appears to float in mid-air like a flying saucer; you’ll have to look very hard to find its hidden pillars. Admire the patterns on the walls and floors caused by the light flowing through the steel and aluminium webbed dome. It’s meant to resemble rays of sunlight passing through date palm fronds in an oasis.
That feeling that you’re in a peaceful, shady oasis gets stronger when you see the water channel running through the middle of the white-walled building. At 24,000 square metres, and with thousands of works of art, the Abu Dhabi Louvre is the largest art museum on the Arabian Peninsula.
Much of the art comes on loan from France’s great galleries, including the Pompidou Centre, Versailles and the Musée D’Orsay. That means you can gaze at beautiful paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Gaugin, Pollock and Manet. World famous masterpieces include Whistler’s portrait of his mother, Bellini’s Madonna and Child, a self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet’s La Gare Saint-Lazare.
Don’t miss da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, also known as Portrait of an Unknown Lady, one of only a handful of surviving paintings by the great artist. You can get much closer to this 500-year-old painting than the Mona Lisa in the other Louvre, as this one’s not behind a barrier and bulletproof glass. And often it’s quiet enough for you to figure out its Da Vinci Code secrets without any crowds to fight through.
As well as paintings, you can admire sculptures, tapestry, jewellery, glasswork, photographs and ancient treasures like Egyptian mummies and a Grecian sphinx from 600 BC. Wander through 23 spacious, well-lit galleries to see the fascinating pieces.
The kids will love the Children’s Museum and, even better, if they’re under 12 they’ll get in for free. Kick start their love of art and history with colourful, interactive exhibits they can play with and touch.
It’s important to remember that the Abu Dhabi Louvre is closed on Mondays, but stays open on other days until 8pm; and even later, 10pm, on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s busiest on Fridays and Saturdays, but a way to beat the queues is to buy your tickets in advance. You can take 45-minute guided tours to find out more about the exhibits. Another tip is to take a jumper with you as it gets cool inside, to protect the art. That’s also why you can’t use a flash on your camera, but you can still take great pictures without it to remember your special visit