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  • Oct 21, 2014

Louvre Abu Dhabi Announces First Year Loans of Works from French Museums

ANDY WARHOL, Big Electric Chair, 1967

On October 12, the Louvre Abu Dhabi revealed the list of nearly 300 works loaned to the fledgling museum by major French institutions for its opening year. These works will complement the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 300-piece-strong permanent collection already in place. Lent by selected institutions belonging to the Agence France Muséums (AFM), the newly added works will reside in the Louvre Abu Dhabi from three months to a maximum of two years, depending on their curatorial relevance to the museum’s upcoming programming.

The system of loans to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the AFM was established within the framework of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates. Works will be accorded during the first ten years of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s activity. At the museum’s expected 2015 opening, approximately half of the works displayed will be from its own collection, while the rest will be drawn from the AFM loans. The loans will decrease proportionally as the ten-year period progresses.


Overseen by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority (TCA), along with the AFM and specialists from the lending institutions, the newly added selection of works includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman (aka La Belle Ferronnière, c. 1495) on loan from the Musée du Louvre, Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player (1866), Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait (1887) from the Musée d’Orsay, Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1803) from the Château de Versailles, and Andy Warhol’s Big Electric Chair (1967–68) from the Centre Pompidou. Certain loans, particularly the da Vinci, have sparked some ire in France: they are perceived as depriving the French public of the right to view these masterpieces.

While the loan list has allegedly been set for some time, the Emirati delegation preferred to delay its announcement in order to focus media attention on the museum’s own growing collection. Two shows, one in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and one in Paris this Spring, both entitled “Birth of a Museum,” highlighted the Emirati museum's burgeoning collection.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi aspires to be a universal museum, highlighting dialogues between the artistic traditions of international civilizations. Designed by Pritzker-prizewinning French architect Jean Nouvel, it is scheduled to open on December 2, 2015.