The pool of aquamarine is a respite from gusty, desert winds. And the soft, morning light that finds its way through a 7,500-tonne steel dome soothes the senses at the newest museum in the world. The Louvre Abu Dhabi was born out of a 2007 agreement between the governments of France and Abu Dhabi, which allows the Emirati museum to use ‘Louvre’ in its name for the next 20 years, the museum has been designed by maverick French architect Jean Nouvel. In the making for nearly a decade, the 55-building structure is the first ‘universal museum’ in the Arab world. By ‘universal’, they mean “focusing on what unites us: the stories of human creativity that transcend individual cultures or civilisations, times or places.”
Manuel Rabate, Director, Louvre Abu Dhabi will open to the public on November 11. And unlike Paris’ Musee de Louvre, which does not have a single art object of Indian origin, Louvre Abu Dhabi has 150 from India among the 620 objects on display. The sculptures and paintings in this collection range from 12th century BC to the 20th century.
“The Indian collection is an important part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. It starts with a beautiful, 12th century Pala manuscript, then proceeds to a 10th century Shiva Nataraja in bronze,” says the Asian gallery’s curator, Guilem André. “There’s a large collection of Indian miniature paintings from the 17th-18th century, and also an important (SH) Raza painting that highlights his signature bindu,” added André
Among other prized objects of Indian origin on display are a Buddha bust from the Gupta Empire 400-500CE, an 1815-1820 painting of a Burmese delegation at the Mughal court from Delhi, gold coins from the Kushana Empire 1st century AD and a royal dagger carved with mythical Hindu creatures (1600-1665CE).