To mark UAE Innovation Month, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has unveiled its radio-guided Highway Gallery.

Art Radar looks at the project, the world’s first audio-visual experience of its kind, which showcases 10 artworks and artefacts on billboards running alongside the road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The first universal museum in the Arab world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its Jean Nouvel-designed space on Saddiyat Island on 11 November 2017. The museum offers a new perspective on the history of art in a globalised world. Louvre Abu Dhabi has developed a rich collection of works originating from throughout human history and around the world, brought together to highlight universal themes and influences. To date, Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired more than 600 artworks, exhibited alongside 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions.

Alongside its collection of artworks and artefacts in its galleries spanning from pre-historic times to the present day, the museum will present four special exhibitions a year, organised by the French museum partners and Agence France-Muséums as per the intergovernmental agreement between the Government of Abu Dhabi and France that has led to the formation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The agreement will run for 15 years.

One of the Highway Gallery billboards, © Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

One of the Highway Gallery billboards, Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

To mark the United Arab Emirates’ Innovation Month, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has unveiled the Highway Gallery project, which showcases ten artworks and artefacts from the museum’s collection that have been reproduced and framed as nine-by-six-metre billboards, situated along the length of the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. The Highway Gallery launched on 15 February 2018 and will be on show for a month until 15 March, spanning 100 kilometres of road between Seih Shuaib to Rahba City.

In partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Company, Radio 1 FM (100.5 FM), Classic FM (91.6 FM) and Emarat FM (95.8 FM) will automatically play a 30-second introduction to each work as travellers approach the display – the world’s first audio-visual experience of this kind.

One of the Highway Gallery Billboards, Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

One of the Highway Gallery Billboards, showing: Monumental statue with two heads, Jordan, Ain Ghazal, About 6500 BCE, Plaster, bitumen (eyes). © Department of Antiquities of Jordan © Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The works on display have been chosen to display the breadth and depth of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection – both of historical artefacts and works of art, and its loans from Western museums by Renaissance and modern masters. The project represents the full extent of the collaboration between the UAE and the Musée du Louvre, France, and its joint aim to extend the experience of a universal museum to a global audience.

One of the Highway Gallery Billboards, showing: Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of a Woman, called 'La Belle Ferronnière'. Italy, Milan, 1495–1499, Oil on wood. Collection: Musée du Louvre, Paintings Departement © Musée du Louvre. Photography: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi

One of the Highway Gallery Billboards, showing: Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of a Woman, called ‘La Belle Ferronnière’. Italy, Milan, 1495–1499, Oil on wood. Collection: Musée du Louvre, Paintings Departement © Musée du Louvre. Photo: Mohamed Somji. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Ancient masterpieces showcased in the Highway Gallery include the “Mari-Cha” lion (c. 1000-1200), an important Islamic work from the Mediterranean region; the exceptional Egyptian Sarcophagus of Princess Henuttawy (c. 950-900 BCE); a coin inspired by Alexander the Great (300 – 1BCE) and discovered in the UAE, on loan from Al Ain Museum; and an 8,000-year-old two-headed statue (c. 6500 BCE) – one of the oldest monumental statues in the history of humanity, on loan from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.

Paintings spanning from the Renaissance to modernity will also be on display. These include Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of a woman, La Belle Ferronnière (1495-99), a loan from Musée du Louvre; Van Gogh’s 1887 Self Portrait, on loan from Musée d’Orsay; and Édouard Manet’s The Fife Player (1866), on loan from Musée d’Orsay. Other paintings from the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Collection include Young Emir Studying (1878) by Osman Hamdi Bey; Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington (1822); and Piet Mondrian’s iconic Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black (1922).

Louvre Abu Dhabi Unveils Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery © Louvre Abu Dhabi, Photography Jonathan Gibbons. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi unveils radio-guided Highway Art Gallery, © Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Jonathan Gibbons. Image courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi.

On the opening of this innovative and world-leading project, her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Chair of Abu Dhabi Media, said:

This exhibition puts Abu Dhabi on the map of global innovations that underpin its axes of art, culture and information. In alignment with the national strategy of innovation that aims to position the UAE among the most innovative countries in the world over the next seven years. We have built an advanced platform that provides the public with a variety of categories and interests, by providing them with rich and diverse content that contributes to our mission in transferring culture and knowledge. Allowing the community to benefit from the technological development integrated in the UAE’s media and cultural sectors.

On the new approach to viewing artworks and experiencing a “museum” offered by the Highway Gallery, his Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, commented:

Highlighting some of the museum’s iconic masterpieces through a unique, audio-visual experience, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Highway Gallery makes art and culture accessible to people, beyond the museum’s walls. Bringing to life these few but captivating stories from the museum, we hope the Gallery stimulates imaginations and offers new ways to enjoy art.

In addition to the launch of the Highway Gallery, Louvre Abu Dhabi has announced an extensive public programme, offering residents and visitors diverse cultural experiences in dialogue with the museum’s collection, narrative and architecture.

Jessica Clifford

2103

The Highway Gallery will be on view from 15 February to 15 March 2018, along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 

Related topics: Museumsmuseum exhibitionsmuseum collections, news, events in the UAE

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more art news from the United Arab Emirates

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *