Louvre Abu Dhabi receives 1 million visitors in its first year
To see how the Louvre Abu Dhabi was created, visit our interactive feature "A Monument rises from the sand." For more coverage on the museum, head to CNN Style's Inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum has celebrated its first year of activity, during which it has attracted 1 million visitors. The museum opened on Nov. 11, 2017 as the result of a 30-year agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates, in a deal worth over of $1 billion.
International visitors accounted for 60% of the total, with India being the top nationality, followed by Emirati nationals, who are also the most frequent repeat visitors. France, Germany, China, the UK and the US are also among the most represented nationalities, along with countries from the Gulf Cooperational Council (GCC), which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Comparatively, the Louvre in Paris, the largest art museum in the world, attracted 8.1 million visitors in 2017.
Celebrations for the anniversary included a two-day symposium, "Worlds in a Museum," in collaboration with École du Louvre, addressing the topic of museums in a globalized world. A planned concert by British pop artist Dua Lipa was canceled due to rainstorms.
Collaborations with the original Louvre have shaped the first year of the Gulf spin-off, through four major exhibitions. The latest one, "Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia," opened last week and will continue through Feb. 16, 2019. Early next year, "Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age" will focus on Dutch masters with loans from one of the most important private collections in the field, New York's Leiden Collection.
Four more international exhibitions have been announced for the museum's next season. "School of Paris," (Sept. 12 to Dec. 7, 2019) depicts the dynamism of Paris in the first half of the 20th Century. "The Thousand faces of Luxury" (Oct. 31 to Feb. 15, 2019) will take visitors on a journey through luxury in the arts and society from Antiquity to the present days. "Chivalry and Furusiyya" (Feb. to May 2020) will immerse visitors in medieval chivalric culture, both in Islamic territories and the Occident, though literature, music and the arts. "Charlie Chaplin. Cinema & Avant-garde" (Apr. to July 2020) focuses on the work of Charlie Chaplin, not as a monograph but as a dialogue with the arts and concepts of that period.
Among the highlights in the museum's collection were masterpieces on loan from 13 French institutions, which include Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronniere," one of only 15 known paintings by the artist, a 1887 Van Gogh self-portrait and "The Saint-Lazare Station" by Claude Monet. Some of these loans have been returned at the end of the museum's first year of operation, but 40 more are coming in, including another Van Gogh, "The Ballroom at Arles" from 1888. The total number of loans currently on display is around 300.
The museum also announced in 2017 that it would house the world's most expensive painting, a portrait of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci titled "Salvator Mundi," which was purchased at auction in 2017 for $450 million by a buyer later revealed to be Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism. The painting has been the subject of some discussion about its authenticity and reservations about the restoration work that's been done on it, and the museum has yet to display it after the Department of Culture and Tourism announced a delay earlier this year.
The Louve Abu Dhabi was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. It sports a total of 7,850 aluminum stars on its signature dome, which is 180 meters (591 feet) in diameter and weighs over 7,700 tons. The building sits on a dry dock made from 503,000 cubic meters of sand and surrounded with pools. The complex includes a marina for private yachts to dock.
Watch the video above to see Becky Anderson's interview with the museum's director Manuel Rabaté.