The Louvre around the World

Like the Guggenheim Museum, the Louvre is becoming a brand. It has established a satellite museum outside of Paris in the northern city of Lens near the French border with Belgium and it is building a partner museum designed by the architect Jean Nouvel in the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This ambitious move by the Louvre is a means to give more access to its collections, both in its home country and abroad. The Abu Dhabi museum is a means to introduce French culture to a middle-eastern audience. It also presents an opportunity for cultural exchange, education and economic partnership between the two countries.

Louvre Lens

In a bid to decentralise culture in France the government decided that it would be prudent to create a smaller regional Louvre museum. The objective was that the museum would share and disseminate its vast collections with a poorer region in the French state. The city of Lens was chosen hot off the foot of another decentralized museum, the Pompidou in Metz. The site of an old mine in the centre of the town was chosen in part because it was seen as a symbolic way to rehabilitate the image of this urban area devastated by economic decline after the last of its mines closed in 1986. The project was realized by the Japanese architecture firm SANAA in collaboration with New York architect Tim Culbert. The pared-down design presents six single story glass-pavilions of different dimensions that connect together to form the overall museum. Each pavilion forms a separate space and has a defined role within the museum. The glass is diffused so as to softly light the interior of the museum. The new museum has opened up new ways of presenting artefacts, sculptures and paintings in a more schematic and less hierarchal manner. The modern setting is also a new departure, giving the artefacts on display a new context that is light filled and transparent.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, set to open in 2015, was created through an intergovernmental agreement signed in 2007. The aim of the historic agreement was to the share the cultural heritage and savoir-faire between the nations of France and the United Arab Emirates. The creation of a Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi is a curatorial opportunity for the Louvre to exhibit some of its collections abroad - most notably collections that might not necessarily get much exposure in the Paris museum due to lack of space.
The objective of the museum is to highlight Abu Dhabi’s role in uniting western, middle-eastern and eastern cultures. It will be the first universal museum in the Arab world. The city was traditionally part of the Silk Road trade routes that linked Europe to the east and this will be central to how its exhibitions will be characterised. Building or creating a museum is also a very European concept that has its origin in 18th century enlightenment thinking. The urge to classify and define, two of the driving forces behind the creation of the encyclopaedia, found their culmination in the creation of the museum in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Abu Dabi will continue on in this tradition by presenting a universal collection comprising of archaeology, art, and decorative arts from all over the world.
French Architect Jean Nouvel has been commissioned to design the building and has designed a dramatic city-like museum that borrows heavily from Arab design and architecture. Covered by a huge floating white dome, the museum looks as though it is floating on water.

The Louvre Loans its Art to the World

The Louvre often loans its works from the collection to other museums for short periods of time. Unfortunately not all works can be loaned due to their fragility - this is certainly the case for the Mona Lisa who is painted on a thin, fragile piece of wood. The Mona Lisa has travelled before; she was stolen in 1911 by an Italian house painter who tried to sell her to a Florentine art-dealer. More recently, she made the journey further afield to the US in 1963 and Japan in 1974. Both trips incurred irreparable damage that conservationists are not eager to repeat.

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