Architecture

In photos: Seeing the light at the jaw-dropping Louvre Abu Dhabi

In photos: Seeing the light at...
A visitor peers up towards the dome roofing at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
A visitor peers up towards the dome roofing at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
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On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
While a standalone museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi borrows its name from the famous French institute as part of an agreement between the French and UAE governments
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While a standalone museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi borrows its name from the famous French institute as part of an agreement between the French and UAE governments
Visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi take a look outside
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Visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi take a look outside
On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
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On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
Visitors enjoy an exhibit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Visitors enjoy an exhibit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Visitors enjoy the exhibits at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Visitors enjoy the exhibits at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
A look inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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A look inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi
A visitor at the Louvre Abu Dhabi takes in the surroundings
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A visitor at the Louvre Abu Dhabi takes in the surroundings
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
Ai Weiwei's Fountain of Light on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Ai Weiwei's Fountain of Light on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
A stairway at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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A stairway at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
An unused exhibition space at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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An unused exhibition space at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
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On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
A lifeguard watches over the waters of the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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A lifeguard watches over the waters of the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Jean Nouvel's Louvre Abu Dhabi really is a sight to behold
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Jean Nouvel's Louvre Abu Dhabi really is a sight to behold
The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
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The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
Outdoor seating at the Louvre Abu Dhabi's cafe
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Outdoor seating at the Louvre Abu Dhabi's cafe
The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
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The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
Visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi take in the surroundings
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Visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi take in the surroundings
Outdoor seating at the Louvre Abu Dhabi's cafe
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Outdoor seating at the Louvre Abu Dhabi's cafe
The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
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The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
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On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is intended as a man-made archipelago
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is imagined as just one part of an extensive, and typically extravagant, cultural center for the Emirati capital
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is imagined as just one part of an extensive, and typically extravagant, cultural center for the Emirati capital
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is imagined as just one part of an extensive, and typically extravagant, cultural center for the Emirati capital
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi is imagined as just one part of an extensive, and typically extravagant, cultural center for the Emirati capital
Covering most, but not all, of the buildings is the Louvre's architectural centerpiece, a massive silver dome inspired by the Arabic cupola
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Covering most, but not all, of the buildings is the Louvre's architectural centerpiece, a massive silver dome inspired by the Arabic cupola
The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
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The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
A visitor peers up towards the dome roofing at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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A visitor peers up towards the dome roofing at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
View gallery - 31 images

Widely seen as the esteemed French architect Jean Nouvel's masterpiece, the Louvre Abu Dhabi really is a sight to behold. More than a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars in the making, the museum finally opened last weekend, inviting visitors to wander amongst its galleries that are housed in striking, oversized white blocks topped by a magnificent mesh dome that scatters mesmerizing patterns of light onto the plaza below.

The complex is actually made up of 55 detached buildings and is designed as a kind of man-made archipelago, accessible both by land and the surrounding turquoise waters that lap against its near-blinding white surfaces.

While a standalone museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi borrows its name from the famous French institute as part of an agreement between the French and UAE governments
While a standalone museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi borrows its name from the famous French institute as part of an agreement between the French and UAE governments

Covering most, but not all, of these buildings is the Louvre's architectural centerpiece, a massive silver dome inspired by the Arabic cupola. The dome itself weighs the same as the Eiffel Tower (around 7,500 tonnes) and has a diameter of 180 m (590 ft). Despite its size, it rests on just four pillars hidden away inside the museum buildings to create something of a floating effect.

The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through
The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through

The dome is made up of eight separate layers of stainless steel and aluminum mesh, which combine to form a tapestry of 7,850 geometric holes for the sun to filter through. This creates patterns across the plaza's surface that are intended to pay tribute to the light-scattering palm tree leaves of Abu Dhabi.

While a standalone museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi borrows its name from the famous French institute as part of an agreement between the French and UAE governments, a deal that also calls on the curatorial expertise of Agence France-Muséums. On show at the Louvre's opening were loaned contemporary pieces shipped in from French museums, along with art from its own in-house collection and an assortment of prehistoric artifacts.

Ai Weiwei's Fountain of Light on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Ai Weiwei's Fountain of Light on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is imagined as just one part of an extensive, and typically extravagant, cultural center for the Emirati capital. Sitting on the western edge of Saadiyat Island, it is hoped to one day be joined by proposed museums from similarly credentialed starchitects, including the Sheikh Zayed National Museum by Norman Foster, a maritime museum by self-taught Japanese architect Tadao Ando and a new Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry.

This is all part of a bold plan to turn Saadiyat Island into a mecca for the world's connoisseur's of fine culture, though after our visit to the Louvre last week, we can confidently say this place won't have trouble drawing a crowd all on its own. Check out our gallery to see what we mean.

More information: Louvre Abu Dhabi

View gallery - 31 images
4 comments
Riaanh
Amazing. I wonder whether one would be allowed to take to the water. There is at least one very bored lifeguard.
Vernon Miles Kerr
I was going to go into my normal rant about how current museum admission prices are resulting in culture being only available to the wealthy, but I went to the museum's web site. The admission for 1 person is 60 AED. That translates to 16 USD. Pretty reasonable as a rule. Now...if I can only scrape up the economy air fare for that flight from California to Abu Dhabi.
StevyD
Can one be so overwhelmed by the physical beauty and inspiration of the architecture that the art it houses becomes of secondary importance?
Vernon Miles Kerr
@StevyD The Getty Museum, a radical modern structure on the top of a mountain ridge overlooking Downtown Los Angeles is pretty spectacular, but I found that it actually contributed to the enjoyment of J. Paul Getty's art collection. One rides a tram from the free parking structure along a winding path to the top of the ridge. The admission to the museum is free as well, if memory serves.