Home » Branded Culture: The Abu Dhabi Louvre

Branded Culture: The Abu Dhabi Louvre

France sells the Louvre’s illustrious name to the UAE for $555 million as Abu Dhabi begins construction on the Jean Nouvel designed museum.


Jean Nouvel’s design for the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Image: pushpullbar.com

Read Carol Vogel’s article in today’s New York Times, HERE.

Despite the fact that France may have prostituted herself, the curator’s mandate is to create a “universal spirit”, embodied by groupings such as a sculpture of Christ, a Buddha and a Koran in close proximity.

It reminds us how times have changed since the French Louvre began, as a fortress in the 12th century, whose collections were fortified by Louis XIV and later Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X. The Louvre opened to the public during the French Revolution.

In America, industrialists in the late 19th century bought – and sometimes stole – exotic masterworks from ancient cultures to set up clubby, rarified museums like New York’s Met, in which the public could see exotic treasures that they would otherwise not be exposed to.


Another view of the planned Louvre. Image: dezeen.com

Today, masterpieces constantly travel the world, as countries compete for cultural tourism by building ever more impressive temples to house their treasures, – it’s often more about the architecture than the art – accompanied by the brand names that help them stand out in the crowd. (The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is also in the works.)

But really – as the Royal Ontario Museum should know – it should be most about the curating, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi has the opportunity to do extraordinary things. Stay tuned.

2 Responses to “Branded Culture: The Abu Dhabi Louvre”

  1. Justin says:

    This strikes me as a vanity project. Can you throw a bunch of oil money at a project and expect to create culture? Just some thoughts on the project: http://tinyurl.com/l8w393. Great pictures!

  2. mmm says:

    Yes, it is partly a vanity project. But it’s also an attempt at diversification. The UAE could “throw a bunch of oil money” at missiles and tanks, but they decided to go for tourism and financial services instead. Let’s cut them a little slack.

    A lot of wonderful institutions started as vanity projects with architecture as a major focus. Fellow Canadian art nerds, I say we should stop getting jealous at the attention directed at the architects when new museums are being promoted. We secretly know that without the art, there is no museum. If some hype has to get misdirected for a museum to get built, so be it.

    We won’t be able to judge the LAD for years, maybe decades. For now let’s cheer at the fact that a 260,000 square foot contemporary museum is being built in the Middle East.

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