People tend to flock to art museums to behold amazing sculptures, beautiful paintings, and other gorgeous works of art. In the United Arab Emirates, art fans will soon gather to admire the museum itself. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, is still under construction - yet it has captured the attention of design lovers around the globe. Upon its completion, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the first universal museum in the Arab world.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the fruit of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates. Ground broke at the museum site in 2009 and the opening has been delayed several times. According to the project update in 2012, the museum on Saaydiyat Island should open sometime later this year.
The Arab arm of the Louvre will take up around 8,000 square feet. Of that, approximately 2,000 square feet will house permanent collections, while the remaining space will host temporary exhibits. Initially, there were concerns about what type of artworks might be approved for display in an Arab state, but the nature of the exhibits won’t be influenced by the fact that the museum is located in a Muslim country, Louvre Abu Dhabi president Henri Loyrette told The National.
Jean Nouvel, Pritzker-prize winning architect, is responsible for the unique design of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. He also has plans in the works for an art museum in China. Light and nature are key components of each of Nouvel’s designs, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi demonstrates that as well. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s shape and form are unique and beautiful even without any art contained within. The museum features a domed ceiling, much like a planetarium, highlighted by spectacular Paralum lighting by Luxiona.
The concept of a Louvre museum outside of Paris may seem strange, but this isn’t an attempt to recreate the French Louvre in an Arab country. Rather, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is intended to bring together the history and reputation of the beautiful works of art in the Paris museum with the dynamism of the rapidly developing modern Arabia.
However, the project also has a dark side. Construction work on the Louvre Abu Dhabi has come under significant fire recently, as human rights organizations report that laborers on the island are actually slaves. Many are migrant workers from South Asian countries who were lured in with false promises and are now stuck working against their will without pay. Some of the workers even paid fees in order to be recruited to work on the project, which will also house an Arab location of the Guggenheim and New York University, both designed by world-famous architects. Workers are reportedly facing abysmal living conditions and outrageous abuses, but the human rights offenses continue even after the United Arab Emirates issued reforms to address the problems.