The iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi on Wednesday announced it will open its doors to the public on November 11 2017. It also released breathtaking new images from inside the space-age structure, and gave the first word on what exhibitions would open the 97,000-square-metre space.
The announcement comes after years of postponements, with the museum saying originally that the opening would be in 2012. Construction on the building, designed by starchitect Jean Nouvel, began in 2013. The new building, which will be a sister to Paris' Musée du Louvre, is located on Abu Dhabi's specially built Saadiyat Island, which will also soon be home to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
Louvre Abu Dhabi will feature 23 permanent galleries, exhibition galleries, a children's museum, auditorium, restaurants, a retail space and a research centre. Surrounded by the sea, visitors can walk the promenades beneath the museum's dome and experience what the architect describes as a "rain of light", inspired by the shadows of overlapping palm trees in the UAE's precious oases where travellers once crossed paths.
Nouvel said in the announcement: "[The] Louvre Abu Dhabi will open in two months. After several years of studies and construction, guests will be able to enter this place of light, this revelatory meeting place of a number of planetary cultures beyond the seas and centuries."
In the galleries, important artworks on loan from 13 leading museums in France will be presented. Highlights include Leonardo da Vinci's La Belle Ferronnière; Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait; a rare ivory saltcellar from the Benin Empire; and a Globe by Vincenzo Coronelli.
"Louvre Abu Dhabi is a place where visitors can come to understand their own and others' cultures. Its ground-breaking architecture complements a presentation of exceptional treasures that represent a snapshot of humanity's creativity, and paves the way for new discussions," said Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
South Africans can expect to pay around R200 for general admission to the space once it's open, and R100 for people aged between 13 and 22.