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It’s official: the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open at the end of 2016, a full year later than previously announced and a decade after the contract was signed for the €1bn project on Saadiyat Island. The delay was confirmed on Tuesday, June 16, during a press briefing at the Louvre by the museum’s president, Jean-Luc Martinez.

The Gulf outpost had stalled for almost six years before the project was rescued by Martinez.

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It is fitting that the first major outing for Leonardo’s newly restored "La Belle Ferronnière" is to the city where the work was made five centuries ago. The painting, which is in the collection of the Louvre, Paris, has returned to Milan for Leonardo, 1452-1519, now on show at Palazzo Reale (until July 19). The Italian exhibition has been timed to coincide with the Milan Expo (May 1 - October 31). The work is also due to travel to the United Arab Emirates in 2016 for the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The sitter’s fine features and most of her delicate complexion have been recovered, thanks to restorers at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France.

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On the lunar landscape that is Saadiyat Island, the shape of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is gradually emerging from the sand. On the gigantic shorefront site, work continues around the clock. The 5,000-strong workforce is expected to swell to 7,500 over the coming months. “We shall deliver the building at the end of 2015,” its architect Jean Nouvel tells "The Art Newspaper." “Then a few months will be needed to set up the inner structures and hang the works,” he says. The museum’s official opening date, which has not yet been set, will be in 2016.

The building first has to meet the criteria of “excellence” shared by the architect, the Louvre and the emirate, meaning that the safety of the collections is ensured under extreme climatic conditions.

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Museum-goers are anticipating this fall’s debut of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, part of a long-term cultural agreement with the French government. One recent acquisition may surprise visitors: Museum officials in Abu Dhabi say they have paid Los Angeles’s Armand Hammer Foundation an undisclosed sum for a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington.

The 1822 painting shows the first American president sitting at a desk, one hand resting on a document, the other cradling a sword hilt. Other Washington portraits by Stuart have sold for around $8 million, according to dealers and auction records.

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Masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse will be among the 300 artworks to be loaned from French museums to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for its December 2015 opening.

The £400m museum will feature paintings and sculptures from 13 French cultural institutions, including Leonardo da Vinci’s "Portrait of an Unknown Woman," Claude Monet’s "Saint Lazare Station" and Andy Warhol’s "Big Electric Chair" as well as ancient statues, vases and masks from across Asia and Africa.

The loaned works will join the permanent collection of Louvre Abu Dhabi, which will be the first universal museum to open in the Arab world.

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These days, success for museums often means expansion—whether it is with new buildings or international satellites. The Louvre’s new director, Jean-Luc Martinez, has another idea. Having taken over the museum in April 2013, he wants to refocus on the core of the institution: its collections and permanent displays. And to do so, he’s ready to launch a behemoth refurbishing initiative, which in his own admission could “take decades.”

After 12 years characterized by the aggressive development policy of Martinez’ predecessor Henri Loyrette—who oversaw the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s €1 billion deal—the new director’s position feels particularly radical.

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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.”

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Friday, 25 July 2014 10:55

Louvre Abu Dhabi Unveils New Logo

Studio Philippe Apeloig have designed the visual identity for the new Louvre Abu Dhabi (LAD) designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Apeloig chose to symbolize the building’s spiritual dimension and recreate its very particular climate. The challenge was to evoke the mysterious whiteness and lightness of this exceptional space, including the region’s warm temperatures.

The logo’s flat outline alludes, in an abstract fashion, to the horizontal nature of the building’s architecture, which is accentuated by its proximity to the sea. A thick straight line, like a hyphen between two cultures (east and west), hatched with black lines in different directions it illustrates the kinetic effects of light.

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The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, one of three museums being built on the windswept Saadiyat Island in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has been a quieter presence than the two other institutions there. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, which is scheduled to open next year, and the Zayed National Museum, created by the British architect Norman Foster and to be completed in two years, have each had exhibitions at Manarat Al Saadiyat, the island’s exhibition and visitor center, offering previews of their institutions. Now it is the Guggenheim’s turn.

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The Louvre’s new outpost in Abu Dhabi, which is slated to open in December 2015, will showcase highlights from its collection during an exhibition in France in May. “Birth of a Museum” will include over 160 objects and will give visitors a glimpse of the museum’s impressive collection as well as demonstrate the project’s cultural and architectural significance.

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection, which includes everything from ancient to contemporary artworks, has been gradually growing since 2009. “Birth of a Museum” will present a rare Greek archaic sphinx, an Italian brooch from the 5th century AD, and paintings by Edouard Manet, Rene Magritte, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, and Cy Twombly. A similar exhibition was held in Abu Dhabi from April 22 through July 20, 2013, at a gallery on the island of Saadiyat, close to where construction for the new museum is underway.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, which was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, aims to be  a place of conversation between civilizations and cultures. Works on view will be drawn from French collections as well as the museum’s own holdings.

“Birth of a Museum” will be on view at the Louvre in Paris from May 2 through July 28.

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