Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Abu Dhabi Announces Opening Dates for British Museum, Louvre, and Guggenheim Affiliates

Guggenheim, Louvre, and Saadiyat Island, courtesy TDIC
Abu Dhabi (January 25, 2012) -- Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the entity behind the Saadiyat Island development in Abu Dhabi, today announced the opening dates for the museums of the Saadiyat Cultural District: Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2015, Zayed National Museum in 2016 and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017. The company confirmed that these institutions are strategic components of the Abu Dhabi Government’s vision for the Emirate and this timeline has been finalised in close coordination with its partners and advisors, Agence France Muséums, The British Museum, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The statement comes in reference to yesterday’s announcement by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which stated that “the museums of the Saadiyat Cultural District will help to establish Abu Dhabi as one the world’s leading tourism and cultural destinations, and will encourage communication between different cultures.”

HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC commented on the significance of the announcement saying: “Saadiyat Cultural District will create a cultural destination that will repeatedly attract visitors from the world of arts and culture. The museums will facilitate the development of cultural leaders and experts through education and employment, creating fulfilling career opportunities for UAE Nationals. In turn this will integrate culture and arts into the daily life of the community, assisting to value, sustain and preserve the cultural heritage.”

Substantial work has already been completed on the museums. Detailed architectural designs have now been finalised, as well as all foundation and piling work. Growing teams with regional expertise that will operate each institution are undergoing comprehensive training, and the acquisition of the vast and diverse art and artifact collections for each is well underway.

TDIC explained that due to the immense magnitude of the Saadiyat Cultural District, careful planning has been undertaken to ensure the sustainability of the institutions. These opening dates give each museum sufficient time to establish its own identity on the local and international cultural stage. This includes holistic consideration of the many facets of the museum development such as construction, museography, training, building a permanent collection, and outreach through public programmes and education.

Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Jean Nouvel, Louvre Abu Dhabi is set to be the first Universal museum in the Arab World, and will showcase art from different civilisations and cultures. It will display paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance from the ancient to the contemporary. The most distinctive feature of Louvre Abu Dhabi is its 180-metre diameter dome, with intricate perforations, designed to resemble rays of sunlight passing through date palm fronds and diffusing light below. Acquisitions for the permanent collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi have already been announced.

An institution conceived as a place for discussion, learning, and inspiration, Zayed National Museum will tell the story of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s life, while exploring the history and culture of the UAE. Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Lord Norman Foster designed the museum and its distinctive towers are reminiscent of the wing tips of the falcon, a powerful symbol of the cultural heritage of the UAE. Zayed National Museum will have seven permanent gallery displays as well as a temporary exhibition programme and library. TDIC is currently completing a series of research trips with the British Museum involving meetings across the nation’s seven Emirates with UAE experts and institutions. The visits have revealed a wealth of information and artifacts stretching back as far as 2000 BCE that will support the compilation of other relevant resources for the museum including documents, film, images, sound and archival material.  


Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is a transnational platform for contemporary art that will present the most important artistic achievements of our time. Decidedly global in perspective, it is a pre-eminent platform for local, regional and global contemporary art and culture. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winning Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s design echoes Gulf architecture, incorporating dramatic conical forms as a modern twist on the region’s traditional wind-towers.