On Sunday May 6th 2018, at exactly 3:33PM, I took my first photo of the new and first museum in Abu Dhabi, Le Louvre. Saadiyat Island, which translates from Arabic to the ‘Happy Island’, is now home to a new branch of the one of most renowned museums in the world. This establishment is, for now, the first museum inhabiting the ‘Cultural District’ found on this island.
This white-covered, labyrinth-like city consists of 55 detached buildings. Delicately covering the majority of the establishment, is this metal-like coloured dome filled with geometrical stars, leaving a few rays of lights and blocking the heat of this desert country. This effect, also known as the ‘rain of light’ inspired from the sun shining through the leaves of palm tress, in the capital of the UAE.
The whole museum appears as if it’s just meditating on water. It feels as if you have left solid ground and you are in a new world.
The exhibition doesn’t only take place inside, within the walls around you. Windows covered with grids are also covered with quotes and proverbs from people from all around the world. When walking through one of the corridors, you can find on your right-hand side this massive wall, with water at its feet, covered in an Arabic text in this closed square.
When discovering the exhibition, the walk between galleries feels smooth and the order in which to observe the collections of artefacts feels right. The feeling of being overwhelmed in a museum is pretty much non-existent in this case. The reason of this is because the original idea behind the Louvre is to create a micro-city through which you wander the streets of an Arab Medina. You could say this isn’t just a museum.
Despite that, my eyes were more attracted to the architecture and how it was outside than the collection itself. Indeed, being familiar with the original Louvre, I was quite disappointed with the exhibition. This idea of “Seeing Humanity in a new light” is quite on point with the context we are living in which helps rediscover who we are. But this more of a pretext than it is actually true. The artefacts and works of art were extremely impressive but they weren’t up to the Louvre standards.
If you ever find yourself wandering the Middle East region, I still suggest to pause for two hours or so to take in this amazingness. The museum is a milestone for the city, country and region.