(ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates) — France’s storied Louvre museum, home to priceless art works like the Mona Lisa, said Tuesday it will open a new Louvre in this Persian Gulf boomtown, prompting outcries from some who accuse the museum of shilling France’s patrimony for $1.3 billion in oil money.
The 30-year agreement, signed by French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and the head of Abu Dhabi’s tourism authority, Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, opens the way for the Louvre Abu Dhabi to display thousands of works from some of France’s best museums, such as the Louvre, the Georges Pompidou Center, the Musee d’Orsay and Versailles.
The works will be housed in a huge flying saucer-shaped museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, which will be erected on the Abu Dhabi waterfront, opening sometime after 2012.
Abu Dhabi’s rulers are positioning the Louvre as the centerpiece of a cultural district expected to attract millions of well-heeled tourists and diversify its oil-dominated economy.
Donnedieu de Vabres said the venture represents the globalization of French culture, the first step in a long-term cooperation with the wealthy Persian Gulf region. He promised that the Paris Louvre would not sell any of its 35,000-piece collection, nor would the deal weaken France’s cultural policy or its museums.
“We’re not selling the French legacy and heritage. We want this culture to radiate to parts of the world that value it,” the culture minister said. “We’re proud that Abu Dhabi wants to bring the Louvre here. We’re not here to transform culture into a consumer product.” (full text).
Some more links around Abu Dhabi and the Louvre:
Abu Dhabi, the richest city in the world.
Abu Dhabi, Fountain near the Sea-Sheraton.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, Exploitation and the Politics of the Museum Industry.