The Louvre Abu Dhabi has drawn 1 million visitors in its debut year, establishing itself as a major cultural institution geographically.
The Gulf museum first opened its doors on Nov. 11th, 2017 as the result of a 3-decade agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates, in a deal worth over $1 billion, according to CNN. United Arab Emirates residents have rapidly adopted the museum and made it a favorite destination to gather with family and friends. They represent 40 percent of the museum’s total number of visitors.
Gulf News UAE reports that The Louvre Abu Dhabi has also become a major attraction for international visitors who account for 60 percent of visits, with tourists coming from all parts of the globe. Tourists from France, Germany, China, U.K., the U.S., India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are the top visitors, with India being the top nationality.
Manuel Rabaté, the museum’s director, says that he is not surprised at all and is very happy with the breakdown of visitors to the museum: "We’re really balanced between our two objectives: one is to be a museum for the people here, a site of education and pleasure for residents, while also being part of the strategy for the development of the destination.”
The museum has hosted more than 1,000 school trips, 5,000 guided tours, workshops and masterclasses, and programmed 115 special events from Bait Al Oud performances to talks, film screenings and concerts with more than 400 artists from 22 countries. The museum's anniversary celebrations included a two-day symposium. A major show by British pop star Dua Lipa had to be canceled because of heavy rainstorms.
Around half of the museum’s collection of approximately 600 works are loans from Agence France-Museums, which include Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferroniere", an 1887 Van Gogh self-portrait and "The Saint-Lazare Station" by Claude Monet. Some of these loans have been returned at the end of the museum's first year of operation, but 40 more are coming in, including another Van Gogh, "The Ballroom at Arles" from 1888. The total number of loans currently on display is around 300, according to CNN.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi also possesses the world's most expensive painting, a portrait of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci titled "Salvator Mundi" (shown below) which was sold at auction in 2017 for $450 million. But the museum has yet to display it after announcing a delay earlier this year.
Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel designed The Louvre Abu Dhabi, and its signature dome features a total of 7,850 aluminum stars, which is 180 meters (591 feet) in diameter and weighs over 7,700 tons. This impressive building sits atop a dry dock of 503,000 cubic meters of sand and is surrounded with magnificent pools.