Museums Cultural exchange United Arab Emirates

Louvre Abu Dhabi sets sights on 300 loans from French museums

Head of Agence France-Muséums leads 17-strong team based in the Gulf

French President François Hollande greets Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan

As “Birth of a Museum”, the preview show of the Louvre Abu Dhabi's collections, ends today, 28 July, at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Manuel Rabaté, the chief executive of Agence France-Muséums, which manages relations between the planned satellite in the Gulf and its French partner institutions, has told Le Figaro that 300 loans from 13 French museum partners – including the Musée du Louvre, Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou will be announced “by the end of this year”. He also revealed the terms of the loan agreement.

Rabaté, who is based in Abu Dhabi, said the loans will be rotated over a ten-year period, with each work remaining in the Gulf for around a year at a time, and displayed alongside the “500 acquisitions making up the permanent collection”. Under the terms of the 30-year agreement made between the UAE and France in 2007, the number of loans will gradually diminish over the first decade as the Louvre Abu Dhabi's collection grows, Rabaté said.

“Birth of a Museum”, which features more than 160 objects acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, lent weight to the promise of a “universal museum” representing world civilisations, religions and artistic styles through the ages, he said. Works such as a 3,000-year-old Iranian bracelet, a Virgin and Child by Bellini, a previously unseen collage by Picasso and nine paintings by Cy Twombly have been seen by more than 120,000 visitors over the exhibition's three-month duration, according to attendance figures released this week.

A 17-strong Agence France-Muséums team, led by Rabaté, has been based in Abu Dhabi for the past year, he said. The decision to share offices with their local partners at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) follows the Emiratis' request for stronger guidance in the ambitious project.

Last April the French media reported tensions in the partnership, citing a 2012 letter from TCA's chairman, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, to the then director of the Louvre, Henri Loyette, which criticised Agence France-Muséums for failing to train specialists in Abu Dhabi or consult the Emirate on the satellite's acquisitions. Without acknowledging the furore, Rabaté emphasised that Loyette's successor, Jean-Luc Martinez, visits the Gulf every two months.

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30 Jul 14
22:2 CET


By all means, kowtow to the uber-wealthy. After all, they expect it.

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