Louvre Abu Dhabi Unveils Highway Art Gallery
By Phoebe Ollerearnshaw
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has unveiled a highway art gallery–the first and only of its kind in the world.
To mark UAE Innovation Month, the museum will be showcasing iconic artwork and artefacts from its prestigious collection by mounting them on several eight by six-metre billboards lining the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Car passengers are being encouraged to tune into Abu Dhabi Media radio stations—Radio 1 (100.5 FM), Classic FM (91.6 FM) and Emarat FM (95.8 FM)—where they will be greeted with a guided radio tour of each masterpiece. Each story lasts approximately 30 seconds and will detail the history, style and intricacies of the work of art in question.
This makes for a unique and modern approach to art consumption. It is certainly the first audio-visual display to be approached in this way. The highway art gallery will be scattered along the 100-kilometre road until mid-March, allowing people to experience the highlights of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection. Some critics have praised the concept for its originality and suggested that it introduces more people to cultural objects that may not have been of interest before.
Some of the masterpieces to exhibit along the highway art gallery include Mari-Cha lion, an Islamic piece from a Mediterranean province, an 8,000-year-old statue of a two-headed figure, which is on loan from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the sarcophagus of Egyptian Princess Henuttawy. A range of paintings will also have time to shine, spanning from the Renaissance period to more modern entries. Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of La Belle Ferronnière (1490) is one such painting—on loan from the Musée du Louvre—as is Van Gogh’s Self Portrait (1887).
On the topic of the innovative concept, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, said: ‘Highlighting some of the museum’s iconic masterpieces through a unique, audio-visual experience, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Highway Gallery makes art and culture accessible to people, beyond the museum’s walls. Bringing to life these few but captivating stories from the museum, we hope the Gallery stimulates imaginations and offers new ways to enjoy art.’
Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on 11 November 2017. It is a universal museum on Saadiyat Island that exhibits a wondrous range of ancient artefacts and art pieces that touch upon various significant eras in history. The building is topped with a signature dome that is laced with geometric lattices. The museum will present four exhibitions a year, which are organised by their French museum partners and Agence France-Muséums as per their agreement with the French and Abu Dhabi government.
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