A decade after the €1bn contract was signed to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and following multiple construction delays, the museum should finally open this November, if everything goes according to plan. A date in the second half of the month has even been mentioned during talks between officials and the French museum and Emirate, but sources close to the project say this is only a “working date” depending on several technical and diplomatic factors, including the agenda of the new French president. The building’s construction is in the “final stages”, our sources confirm, insisting that the museum “will welcome visitors in 2017”.
An internal note was circulated at the Louvre last week calling on all departments to be ready by this summer to send the dozens of masterpieces promised under a loan programme to Abu Dhabi, including Leonardo’s Belle Ferronnière. A total of 300 works are expected from museums across France, to be shown along with part of the Emirati museum's own 700-strong collection.
Most of the construction work has been completed and a number of technical issues that arose—including the placement of the mesh-like 12,000-tonne, 180-metre-diameter cupola and sealing the building from the seawater the fills basins surrounding it—have been solved. Three thousand workers continue to labour round the clock to put the finishing touches on the building designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, but the museum has now entered the “preparation phase, that includes testing [the building's stability and security], before art installation”, our sources say.
The entire complex is now being thoroughly checked, and every minor fault, whether aesthetic or technical, must be fixed in the coming weeks. The final stamp of approval will be given by the technical and security services of the French national museums umbrella organisation. According to information given to The Art Newspaper, this visit is scheduled for June. Several weeks will then be needed to stabilise the atmosphere in the galleries before the art can be installed.
An official opening date is expected to be announced soon, but it will apparently fall sometime between Armistice Day on 11 November, the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the end of the month and the national holiday on 2 December marking the UAE’s union.
Emmanuel Macron’s election last week has also opened the way politically. The new president has promoted opening France to the world and a willingness to combat terrorism in the Middle East, and held his victory rally in Paris in the Louvre’s courtyard.