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Abu Dhabi: A second Louvre in the making, without the huge palace

January 14, 2013|By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • A rendering of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel that's expected to be finished in 2015.
A rendering of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum designed by French architect… (Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture…)

Half a world away from the incomparable Louvre Museum in Paris, work soon will begin on another Louvre, with a price tag of about $650 million.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which arose out of a 2007 cultural partnership between France and the United Arab Emirates, won't look anything like the lavish 12th century building where Louis XIV once lived. The mushroom-shaped building designed by French architect Jean Nouvel is slated to be part of a cultural district planned for Saadiyat Island.

The museum is a few years behind schedule and isn't expected to open until 2015. Abu Dhabi's tourism company last week announced the construction contract had been awarded to Arabtec and said work would begin immediately on the complex that includes permanent and temporary galleries as well as "pavilions, plazas, alleyways and canals, evoking the image of a city floating n the sea."

The roof, described as a geometric lace dome that lets in filtered light and shields the complex from harsh sunlight, is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

So what will be inside? The museum is gathering its own permanent collection and will feature works on loan from 12 French museums, including the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Musee du Quai Branly and Centre Pompidou. Plans also call for a Guggenheim Abu Dhabi designed by Frank Gehry.

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