Lonely Planet Writer

Take a first look at Abu Dhabi's floating Louvre museum

The dream of the Louvre Abu Dhabi just got a bit closer to reality with construction reaching a significant milestone.

The museum city is now "floating" on the sea.
The museum city is now “floating” on the sea. Image by TDIC

Temporary walls have been removed from around the museum, allowing the sea to come right up to the 55 separate buildings that make up the ‘museum city’. Architect Jean Nouvel originally envisaged a series of building ‘floating’ on the Arabian Gulf. At night, the main steel dome of the museum will be illuminated by 4500 lights that will transform the structure and make it visible in the night sky.

The lights will illuminate the museum at night.
The lights will illuminate the museum at night. Image by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority

Mind-blowing architecture is nothing new in Abu Dhabi but the impending completion of the museum will come as a relief to many. Originally slated to open in 2012, the opening has consistently been pushed back due to delays in construction.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi will aim to showcase works of art from all around the world, with a particular emphasis on bridging the gap between East and West and fostering “a dialogue between cultures and civilisations”. The museum wants to focus on “universal themes and common influences” and the collection has already been previewed at the Louvre Paris in 2014 in the exhibition ‘Birth of a Museum’.

The project has not been without criticism, with concerns raised over the employment conditions of construction workers and a worry among the French art community that the Louvre is acting to maximise its profit (the deal is worth nearly €450 million to the Parisien institute). However, that hasn’t prevented the Guggenheim Museum from planning a similar project in the city, expected to open in 2017.

While the latest reports suggest a late 2016 opening for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, no date has been confirmed yet. However, with the building finally taking serious shape, art lovers in the Middle East shouldn’t have to wait too much longer.