Why visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

Why visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum of art and antiquities located on Saadiyat Island, known as the 'island of happiness', in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This museum is a remarkable architectural work, designed by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel. It is distinguished by its dome-shaped cupola, composed of 7,850 stars, creating a unique rain of light effect, inspired by Arab souks and palm groves.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

From 15.83 € (or £13.51)

From £13.51 (or 15.83 €)

advertisement

Inaugurated on November 8, 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was opened to the public three days later, on November 11, 2017. The inauguration ceremony was marked by the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is an extension of the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, strengthening cultural and diplomatic ties between France and the United Arab Emirates.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum is the first museum in the capital and the Persian Gulf region, as well as the first and only French museum to be established abroad. This museum illustrates an exceptional cultural collaboration between two nations, showcasing artworks from different cultures and eras, thus creating a dialogue between civilizations. It offers visitors an immersive and educational experience, celebrating the history of human creativity around the world.

History of the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Entrance of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum

The project

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum is part of a vast cultural district under development on Saadiyat Island, an area dedicated to art and culture. This district will include three other major museums, including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2026, as well as a branch of New York University, a luxury palace, and prestigious residences.

This ambitious project aims to transform Saadiyat Island into a world-renowned cultural center. The government of the United Arab Emirates sought the help of France for the creation and development of this universal museum, aiming to bring together artworks from different cultures and eras, and to promote intercultural dialogue.

The initiative was launched by Abdallah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Communication, who aspired to a museum similar to the Louvre in Paris, integrating a diversity of masterpieces, ranging from nudes to Christs, including Jewish artists and Persian miniatures. The project then received approval from Emir Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for cultural and geopolitical reasons.

In June 2005, discussions began between the Emirate and Henri Loyrette, then director of the Louvre, initially reluctant to the project. Subsequently, Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister of Foreign Affairs under the government of Dominique de Villepin, was also involved, facilitating the realization of this monumental project.

A cultural partnership

The Louvre Abu Dhabi came to life thanks to an intergovernmental agreement between France and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Signed on March 6, 2007, by President Jacques Chirac (a few months before the end of his term), Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, this historic agreement has a duration of 30 years. It symbolizes a unique cultural collaboration, strengthening diplomatic ties between the two nations.

France, tasked with advising on the design and realization of the building, as well as on the development of the museum's scientific and cultural project, has committed to several points since the museum's opening and for the years to come:

  • Loan of collections: France lends artworks from its national museums to enrich the exhibitions of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
  • Annual exhibitions: four major exhibitions per year are organized in collaboration with prestigious French museums.
  • Assistance in building a permanent collection: the Louvre Abu Dhabi is assisted in creating its own permanent collection, intended to gradually replace the loaned artworks.

In return, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) committed to paying 965 million euros over 30 years, a sum that will benefit the Louvre Museum in Paris and other partner museums.

This cultural partnership was renewed in 2013 by French President François Hollande and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, showing a continued commitment from both parties.

In 2021, the agreement was extended by 10 years, until 2047. On this occasion, the Louvre in Paris committed to lending four of its iconic works, further strengthening cultural ties.

To implement this agreement, France created the Agence France-Muséums, a specific structure composed of 12 of the main French cultural institutions. This agency is responsible for coordinating efforts and ensuring the quality and coherence of cultural collaborations.

This initiative is a shining example of international cooperation in the cultural field, aiming to promote artistic diversity and encourage dialogue between civilizations.

Its construction

The architectural project of the Louvre Abu Dhabi was entrusted to the renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, also the creator of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. This visionary project stands out for its innovative design and harmonious integration into the unique environment of Saadiyat Island.

Construction site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum

The museum spans an impressive area of 24,000 m². The central element of its design is a perforated dome 180 meters in diameter, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris. This dome is composed of 7,850 stars made of aluminum and stainless steel, creating a spectacular "rain of light" effect that evokes traditional Arab palm groves and souks. The natural light filtering through these stars illuminates the interior spaces, creating a unique and changing ambiance throughout the day.

Jean Nouvel envisioned the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a true "floating city", dedicated to culture, with its alleys, canals, and pavilions. This cultural micro-city is designed to offer visitors an immersive experience, where modern architecture blends harmoniously with traditional elements.

The museum's foundation work, completed at the end of August 2010, was carried out by the German company Bauer International. This colossal construction site required five months of intensive work and the installation of 4,536 piles to ensure the stability of the structure. Meanwhile, the British engineering firm Buro Happold oversaw the waterproofing aspects, ensuring that the museum, built on an island, remains protected against water infiltration risks.

The completion of this architectural masterpiece marked a significant milestone in the transformation of Saadiyat Island into a major cultural hub. The Louvre Abu Dhabi now stands as a symbol of the alliance between tradition and modernity, and a testament to international cooperation in the field of art and culture.

Interior of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum

Its inauguration and opening

Initially scheduled for 2015, the public opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi finally took place on November 11, 2017, marking an important milestone in the cultural history of the region. The official inauguration on November 8, 2017, was a grand event bringing together many influential personalities from around the world. Among the prestigious guests were French President Emmanuel Macron, King of Morocco Mohammed VI, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, along with 400 other dignitaries and notable guests.

The inauguration was marked by a series of ceremonies and celebrations that highlighted the cultural and artistic significance of this ambitious project. The museum, with its stunning architecture and world-class art collection, was presented as a symbol of dialogue between cultures and civilizations.

The festivities lasted an entire week, offering guests and visitors a glimpse of the artistic treasures of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The events began with a show titled « Vives Réflexions », a spectacular audiovisual performance imagined by Groupe F, known for its innovative and captivating creations. This show, blending light, sound, and art, enchanted the spectators and highlighted the museum's unique architecture.

In addition to artistic performances, the inauguration week included enriching debates and discussions with museum directors from around the world. These exchanges underscored the importance of the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a place of meeting and sharing cultural knowledge.

The museum opened its doors to the public with an impressive collection that spans eras and cultures, offering visitors an educational and immersive experience. Since its opening, the Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to attract visitors from around the world, reinforcing its position as one of the most important and innovative museums internationally.

Visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a place where the history of human creativity is celebrated across cultures, civilizations, eras, and geographies. Its collection is rich and varied, including major masterpieces and artifacts, ranging from archaeological pieces to decorative art objects, neoclassical sculptures, modern master paintings, and contemporary commissions. This diversity allows visitors to travel through time and space, discovering the artistic evolution of humanity.

The museum offers a space of 6,400 m² for permanent exhibitions and 2,000 m² for temporary exhibitions, spread across 23 galleries, 12 of which are specifically dedicated to permanent exhibitions. Each gallery is carefully organized to tell a part of the global history of art, creating an educational and immersive journey for visitors.

Permanent exhibitions

The 12 permanent galleries of the Louvre Abu Dhabi trace the chronological history of human creativity, exploring the common ideas and issues that have defined humanity from prehistory to the present day. The permanent collection, constantly expanding, includes around 600 works from Antiquity to the 21st century from around the world, with famous pieces such as the Venus de Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, the Mona Lisa, and paintings by Vermeer.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin - artwork exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum is divided into 4 wings:

  1. Wing 1:

    • Gallery 1: « First Villages - Memory of Signs »
    • Gallery 2: « First Great Powers »
    • Gallery 3: « Civilizations and Empires »
  2. Wing 2:

    • Gallery 4: « Universal Religions »
    • Gallery 5: « The Asian Trade Routes »
    • Gallery 6: « From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic »
  3. Wing 3:

    • Intersection: « Cosmography »
    • Gallery 7: « Thinking the State »
    • Gallery 8: « First Globalization »
    • Gallery 9: « A New Art of Living »
  4. Wing 4:

    • Gallery 10: « A Modern World? »
    • Gallery 11: « Questioning Modernity »
    • Gallery 12: « Epilogue - Für die Luft » (« Nothing but Air » in French)

Each wing presents a collection of unique artworks, offering an in-depth perspective on different aspects of human history.

Laocoön Group - artwork exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Thanks to loans from its international partners, including the Louvre Museum in Paris, there are always new works to discover for visitors. These exchanges continually enrich the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection, making each visit a unique experience.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum began acquiring works for its permanent collection as early as 2009. In 2020, it added 27 new works to its collection (including 2 bronzes by Auguste Rodin, 25 Japanese prints from the 18th and 19th centuries, a masterpiece by Chagall, and 2 paintings by Georges de La Tour). Additionally, it received 18 works on loan from the Centre Pompidou (including The Algerian Woman, a portrait by Matisse in 1901).

Temporary exhibitions

The Louvre Abu Dhabi offers four major special exhibitions each year in collaboration with prestigious French museums, showcasing works loaned from their permanent collections. These temporary exhibitions, inspired by the museum's universal approach to the history of humanity, are organized according to seasons and themes common to cultures and civilizations worldwide:

  • From July 10, 2024, to October 30, 2024: « Ceramics through the Ages: A Millennial Art »
  • From November 20, 2024, to February 20, 2025: « Masters of the Renaissance: Geniuses of European Art »
  • From December 1, 2024, to March 25, 2025: « Myths and Legends: Universal Stories »
  • From March 15, 2025, to June 10, 2025: « Treasures of Asia: Heritage and Modernity »

The children's museum

The Children's Museum at Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed for children aged 4 to 10, offers interactive exhibitions aimed at sparking curiosity and encouraging creativity among young visitors:

  • From June 15, 2023 to December 2024: « Discoveries and Inventions: Little Geniuses in Action »
  • From January 10, 2025 to June 2026: « Budding Artists: Create Your Own Masterpiece »

Children must be accompanied by an adult during their visit to ensure their safety and enhance their educational experience.

Tickets for Louvre Abu Dhabi

Benefit from the best price by purchasing your tickets for the Louvre Abu Dhabi from one of our partners:

Louvre Abu Dhabi

From 15.83 € (or £13.51)

From £13.51 (or 15.83 €)

Entry is free for children under 12.

To get the best rates and avoid queues, it is recommended to buy your tickets in advance online.

Practical information

Opening hours

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is open all year round:

  • From Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 AM to midnight

The galleries and exhibitions close at 6:30 PM on weekdays and at 8:30 PM on weekends (from Friday to Sunday). The Museum Café closes at 8 PM on weekdays and at 10 PM on weekends (from Friday to Sunday). The Aptitude Café closes at 10 PM every day. The dome remains open until midnight, with the last entry at 11 PM.

The museum is closed on Mondays.

Getting to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located on Saadiyat Island, an artificial island off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

Address: Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Aerial view of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum

To get to the museum, you have 4 options:

  • Car:
  • From downtown Abu Dhabi: follow the signs to Yas Island, then take the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge to Saadiyat Island. On the Sheikh Khalifa Highway (E12), follow the signs to the Cultural District and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Take the first exit after the bridge.
  • From Dubai: from the E11 Abu Dhabi - Dubai Road, take the Saadiyat Island/Yas Island exit, continue on the Sheikh Khalifa Highway (E12), and cross Yas Highway to the Cultural District/Louvre Abu Dhabi. Follow the signs to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
  • Bus: take the line 94 to the "Louvre Abu Dhabi" stop (Saadiyat Island).
  • Taxi: a drop-off point is available at the main entrance of the museum.
  • Cultural Express Shuttle: a free shuttle operates between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, departing from the in Dubai at 9 AM and returning from the Louvre Abu Dhabi at 6:35 PM.
  • Be on time as the number of seats is limited!

Practical tips

A visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi offers a unique cultural experience that deserves to be well-prepared:

By following these few practical tips, you can fully enjoy your visit and discover the artistic treasures that the Louvre Abu Dhabi has to offer.

Nearby

Take advantage of your visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to explore nearby attractions:

  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: the first and only Ferrari-themed park in the world - the ideal place for motorsport enthusiasts!
  • The Yas Marina Circuit: one of the most beautiful Formula 1 circuits in the world and the venue for numerous events such as the United Arab Emirates Grand Prix, the Abu Dhabi Karting Challenge, the Yas V8 400, and the Yas Drag Battle.
  • Yas Waterworld: a covered water park with over 40 attractions, some of which are unique in the world.
  • Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi: a theme park divided into six themed areas inspired by the Warner Bros. universe: Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch, Metropolis, Gotham City, and Warner Bros. Plaza.
  • Emirates Park Zoo: a zoo where you can admire more than 1,800 animals from over 250 different species - including lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos.
  • Saadiyat Beach: a beautiful beach located near the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Saadiyat Beach is ideal for relaxing, swimming, or practicing water sports. The beach is known for its white sand and turquoise waters, offering an idyllic setting to rest after a cultural visit.
  • Manarat Al Saadiyat: a cultural and artistic center located on Saadiyat Island. Manarat Al Saadiyat offers temporary exhibitions, creative workshops, and cultural events throughout the year. It is a must-visit place for art and culture enthusiasts.
  • Qasr Al Watan: the presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates, open to the public. Qasr Al Watan is an architectural masterpiece offering an insight into the history and culture of the region. Visitors can explore the majestic halls, gardens, and cultural exhibitions.

 

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is much more than just a museum; it is a window into the history of human creativity, a place where cultures meet and dialogue through timeless works of art. Its spectacular architecture, designed by Jean Nouvel, and its rich and diverse collection make it a must-visit destination for art lovers and curious minds from around the world.

By visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi, you will have the opportunity to discover masterpieces from all eras and cultures, participate in captivating temporary exhibitions, and enjoy modern and comfortable facilities. Additionally, the museum offers numerous options for families, including interactive exhibitions for children, making the visit accessible and enjoyable for all ages.

Near the museum, Abu Dhabi offers a variety of exciting attractions, from theme parks to beautiful beaches, cultural centers, and zoos, ensuring that every visitor finds something to enjoy.

Whether you are an art enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or simply looking for a unique experience, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and its surroundings offer a multitude of discoveries and pleasures. Plan your visit today and get ready to be amazed by the richness of this cultural gem in the heart of the United Arab Emirates.