Louvre Abu Dhabi

It doesn't seem possible to have a Louvre without Paris, as much as Paris just wouldn't be Paris without the Louvre, but that is all about to change. The Louvre Museum is franchizing -- and it's heading to the desert.
French Ministry of Culture announced that final contracts have been signed on the "Louvre Abu Dhabi," a 24,000-square-meter branch of the famous Parisian museum to be built on the emirate state's Saadiyat Island.



For 700 million license fee, 400 million of which are for the rights to the "Louvre" brand -- France will make expertise and art works available from its most prestigious museum. The pieces, drawn from all époques and respecting the "cultural values" of the Arab country, will be on loan for a maximum of two years.

The first agreement of its kind worldwide has been highly controversial in the art world. Critics decry the increasing commercialization in the museum world as well as the the fact that the French are opportunistically tolerating the emirate's religious censorship. And the deal has caused a wave of indignation in France, with the French talking about a selling out of their national legacy.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be housed in a futuristic building, designed by star architect Jean Nouvel, who also designed the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. The museum will cost €83 million to build, and is slated for completion by 2012.
It will be situated on Saadiyat Island ("Island of Happiness"), which is already home to a 30,000-square-meter branch of New York's Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank O. Gehry. Abu Dhabi's ruler, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has decided to make the island one of the world's top cultural destinations and a "beacon for cultural experience and exchange." There will also be national and marine museums and an entertainment center, as well as luxury hotels, golf courses and recreational ports.

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