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Virtually Touring The Louvre Abu Dhabi

By: Michelle Holder

When you think of The Louvre, your mind probably thinks to the romantic streets of Paris, France and the towering glass prism surrounded by an historic palace. What most people don't know is that in the heart of the Middle East, tucked on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, The Louvre of Abu Dhabi is a cultural emblem and home to incredible international art.

The front side of The Louvre Abu Dhabi near the entrance of the museum.

Virtual Tour

This YouTube video is a way to virtually experience what it is like to wander the art-filled walls and galleries of The Louvre Abu Dhabi. As you watch the footage, you can imagine seeing the marvelous museum for yourself and also learn about the art.


The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first time the French government has extended The Louvre brand in an international partnership. For $520 million, Abu Dhabi would be allowed to use the name on their museum, which is a hefty sum. Add an extra $747 million for a exchanging art pieces, loans, management and special exhibits and it has now become a really expensive project. However, with this Emirati-French 30-year agreement of sharing art internationally, The Louvre Abu Dhabi has become a symbol of global cooperation and and cultural exchange.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and The Louvre museum is located on Saadiyat Island, one of the many islands that makes up the country. Saadiyat Island is designed to be a cultural focal point, with multiple museums such as the Guggenheim and a national museum, a performing arts center and many international schools and universities, including NYU Abu Dhabi.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on November 11, 2017. It quickly became a must see sight in the region, and attracted tourists from all over the world.

If you have a chance to visit the United Arab Emirates, the city of Abu Dhabi has a plethora of places to see, and The Louvre is a great way to spend an afternoon away from the unforgiving desert heat.

The Museum's Initiative

The goal of the museum is to bring unity. By creating a universal museum, the museum focuses on bringing together the many cultures of the world to create a cohesive dialogue of humanity. By designing French design with Arab culture, The Louvre is a living testimony of cross-cultural collaboration.

Throughout the museum, signs and information are written in three languages: French, Arabic, and English. The Louvre Abu Dhabi wants to be known for its international goals and for sharing the worlds' cultures through art.


The museum, a feat of architecture and design, resembles a UFO floating on the neon waters of the Arabian Gulf. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, he incorporated many cultural aspects of the United Arab Emirates into the composition.

The United Arab Emirates is known for its nature, particularly the palm trees. The web-like dome roof sits on the white body of the museum, stretching into the surrounding water. As the sun travels across the sky, light filters through the dome's holes, creating what is known as a "rain of light." This is a tribute to the nation's palm trees, as the trees are known to filter and soften the sun's harsh light, oftentimes creating a moving pattern on the ground.

The dome is also inspired by mashrabiyas, a common Arab architectural element that allows shade and protection from the extreme desert sunlight.

By incorporating light and shade into the museum's design, Nouvel created a beautiful outside area where visitors can experience the museum itself. The white outdoor steps and walkways provide a place where you can sit and enjoy the scenery, and also allows for a great view Abu Dhabi from the water.

Similar to the Eiffel Tour in Paris, The Louvre Abu Dhabi total weight accumulates to 7,500 tons. The lace-like structure of the dome itself is designed with intricate stars, reaching a grand total of 7,85o individual stars. The patterned roof also helps with the building's cooling system.

With the help of BuroHappold Engineering, The Louvre Abu Dhabi was able to incorporate environmental engineering techniques to create a sustainable structure. The stone floor keeps the museum cooler throughout the day as the temperatures rise. The museum also utilizes effective water and energy conservation.

Must See Masterpieces

The museum houses around 600 pieces of art from around the world, but you'll have to keep and eye out for these particular art pieces in each of the galleries. The galleries are organized chronologically, rather than by geography or style. This creates a one, cohesive narrative of world civilizations You won't want to miss these wondrous pieces of art.

Monumental statue with two heads

Found in an underground cache in Jordan, this prehistoric statue is equal parts eerie and mind-boggling. The figure is part of a larger collection of statues in Jordan, called the Ain Ghazel Statues. This statue is known to be one of the first large-scale representations of humans.

Ramses II Pharaoh of Egypt Statue

Ancient Egyptian art is fascinating for many reasons, and one of those reasons being the incredible depictions of the pharaohs. As if gods on Earth, pharaohs were considered to be divine rulers of the land. Pharaoh Ramses II is regarded as one of the most powerful and celebrated pharaohs of Egypt, and this statue is a testament to his power. In the statue, you can see his striped head-cloth, known as a nemes, and also his fake beard, all signs of a ruling pharaoh.

Mari-Cha Lion

This bronze lion, originating from the Mediterranean area, is a bold and brilliant Islamic art piece. Not much is known about this art piece, but the hole in the bottom of the sculpture has lead art historians to believe that when air is blasted through can produce a loud roar.

Page of the Quran

The illuminate script from the holy Quran is a magnificent page to see. Preserved in a darkened room, this religious page is beautiful to view, even hundred of years since it was written.

The Young Man's Head by Rembrandt

The Dutch painter Rembrandt's portrait of the face of Christ is a rare oil sketch. It is the only Rembrandt piece to have traveled all the way to the Middle East and be on display.

Napoleon Bonaparte by Jacques-Louis David

An iconic French painting, this artwork is a magnificent sight to see. The artwork reflects the power and strength of Bonaparte and France, and the details of each careful brushstroke by Louis David cannot be missed. The painting is located in the A New Art of Living gallery.

Young Emir Studying

Painted by Osman Hamdy Bey in Istanbul, Turkey, this oil on canvas reflects the cultural melting pot of travel during the 17th century. The painting includes vibrant colors and detailed depictions of oriental rugs.

Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black by Piet Mondrian

An abstract classic, Mondrian's carefully crafted compositions create a beautiful blend of primary colors. The harmony in Mondrian's work is a direct reflection on his religious beliefs, which balanced nature and the universe. This painting is in the Challenging Modernity gallery.

La Belle Ferronnière, by Leonardo da Vinci

While Mona Lisa remains one of the most famous portraits of all time, the La Belle Ferronnière rivals Mona herself as one da Vinci's most incredible female portraits. However, there is not much information on who the woman is and why da Vinci painted her, creating a mystery one can only solve by viewing the painting. This painting is on loan from The Louvre in Paris.

For the Air

The last gallery in the museum is the most modern part of the exhibit. For the air is a piece created by Austrian artist Susanna Fritscher, and incorporates light and silicon threads to provide a ominous and open artistic experience.

Photos from The Louvre Abu Dhabi website and from Friday Magazine.

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