Birth of a Museum: Discover the World of Louvre Abu Dhabi

Following on from the first exhibition Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi, organised in 2009, Birth of a Museum is the first large-scale presentation of the collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. With a selection of around 130 items acquired since 2009 - most of them never exhibited before - the exhibition will give an insight into the core principles that underpin the creation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It also examines the genesis of this new museum and its architecture.

The exhibition Birth of a Museum provides a sketch of a work-in-progress from different civilisations ranging from ancient times to the present day with multidisciplinary nature of artistic creation. Like the museum itself, it proposes a new approach of history of art. It will shed light on the key issues explored in the museum, such as the status of the work of art, the universal questions of the depiction of the human form and the sacred, artistic borrowings and influences, the spread of forms and ideas, the relationship between reality and the imagination.

The exhibition does not set out to be an exhaustive preview of the future museum, which will house not only the permanent collection but also artworks loaned by French museums.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the first catalogue of the collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Birth of a Museum 
Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi, UAE
22 April - 20 July 2013
09:00 - 20:00 Daily

Layout of the exhibition
Six main themes will be presented in the exhibition: The Human Form, Ancient Worlds, The Sacred, Eastern Image, The Western Gaze, Cultures in Dialogue and as a conclusion, the Cy Twombly Cycle.

Through these themes, the exhibition adheres to the main principles laid down in the museum’s scientific and cultural mission statement.
The exhibition Birth of a Museum offers a fresh approach and a variation on the message of the Louvre Abu Dhabi that provides an attractive glimpse of the museum that will be unveiled in 2015.

Section 1: The human form 
The human body is one of the oldest subjects in art, dating back to prehistory and the emergence of the earliest cultures. It was an expression of man’s relations with the divine and with power, as well as human relationships. From the Neolithic age to the emergence of the first great civilisations, the figure gradually became a symbol of fertility and of systems of power.

Section 2: Ancient worlds
This section, featuring archaeological objects, offers a glimpse of how different civilisations from around the world will be juxtaposed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The choice of a single type of object, the vase, from different civilisations – ancient Minoan Greece, classical Greece, ancient China and Roman Egypt – highlights the links, or absence of links, between these regions. An Achaemenid bracelet adorned with a lion’s head evokes the ancient world of the Near East.

Section 3: The Sacred
Religion and art have always been interlinked. This section takes a comparative look at different religions, their practices and rites. The various objects – Christian reliquary and Stupa reliquary, Chinese and Gupta Buddha heads, Holy Qur’an and Torah – echo and illuminate each other.

Section 4: Eastern image
The diverse selection of works in this section offers a fresh overview of Eastern art, whose traditions are so different from those of the West. From Mogul and Rajput India to Japanese Zen painting, the exhibits display the rich variety, refinement and inventiveness of Eastern artistic traditions. They also reveal how artists experimented with artistic conventions and absorbed influences from elsewhere.

Section 5: The Western gaze
The collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi will provide unique insights into the extraordinary history of Western painting. It features twenty canvases of outstanding quality taken from two important periods, both of which shed light on the art of today. Visitors can see works that were inspired by the humanistic ideals of the Renaissance, embodying a rational and realistic vision. They can also see how 19th-century artists, in response to political, social and technological changes, adopted a more personal and subjective approach to representation, paving the way for the avant-garde movements of the 20th century.

Section 6: Cultures in dialogue
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will show how exchanges between cultures have played an important role in every period of art. The first part of this section, Discoveries and Fantasy, examines how contact between civilisations impacts on art, giving rise to historical images, fantastic visions and photographic records of events. The second part, Travelling Forms, shows how objects have migrated, transporting with them inspiration, forms and motifs. The third part, Ornamentation and Modernity, examines decoration, in particular how particular motifs and forms have been copied or transformed.

Conclusion: Cy Twombly cycle
A series of nine canvases by Cy Twombly concludes the exhibition, offering visitors a poetic moment of contemplation, and providing a fitting epilogue to the story of mutual influence between East and West down the ages.