Revealed: details of contract between Abu Dhabi and France

The Art Newspaper obtained a copy

LONDON. The Art Newspaper has seen the contract signed on 7 March 2008 between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France for the creation of a Louvre Abu Dhabi.

It reveals that a relatively small number of works will be lent, with a “reasonable number” coming from the Louvre’s collections. At the launch of the new museum in 2012, it will be 300 works; four years later, 250 works, seven years later, 200. After ten years, the loans will cease. All works loaned to the museum will be indemnified from seizure within the UAE.

The Gulf emirate is paying E1bn ($1.6bn) over 30 years to a new body, the agence France-Muséum, that will administer this capital sum for the benefit of a consortium of participating French museums, which includes the Louvre with a share of 40%. The income is to benefit “new scholarly projects” in these museums “without any reduction to their current financing”.

The contract reveals more details about how the new museum, by Jean Nouvel, will look. Over 3,000 sq. m of display space will be ready to show “comparisons between works of various periods and geographical origin, with an emphasis on the dialogue between civilisations” and arranged thematically: landscape, funerary art, the portrait etc. A “smaller proportion of this space” will be devoted to contemporary art, “to resonate with older works and demonstrate the continuity between different periods and the way in which our view of older art is conditioned by contemporary perception”.

No similar operation may be set up using the name of the Louvre with any of the other emirates of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran or Iraq.

The agence France-Muséum will be the operative partner with Abu Dhabi and will supervise all aspects of the building of the museum and training of the museum’s curators. It will suggest an acquisitions policy and draw up an ethical charter, with all works having to demonstrate an unimpeachable provenance.

Abu Dhabi contracts to provide E40m ($62m) for the acquisition of the collection, but Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan, chairman of the emirate’s tourism authority, under whose aegis the museum is being developed, has told The Art Newspaper that, “if we want, we can spend more than this.” The annual budget for exhibitions will be E13m ($20.2m). In addition to the E400m ($620m) the Louvre gets for the use of its name, it will receive E25m ($39m) to develop part of its Pavillon de Flore, a wing of the Paris museum which houses paintings, while the agence France-Muséum will be paid E165m ($256m) for its services over and above E1bn for the whole project.

Anna Somers Cocks

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