It’s been more than a decade since the government of Abu Dhabi signed an agreement with France to mark the deal that started the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and on November 11, 2017, the highly-anticipated museum finally opens to the public. The incredible Jean Nouvel–design building debuts with a chronological exhibition that examines a “universal narrative” told through 12 chapters, beginning with a tiny Chlorite Bactrian princess from the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. and ending with an enormous crystal fountain of light by Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei from 2017. The institution’s first special exhibition, which opens on December 21, will trace the history of the Louvre from its beginnings as the royal collections of King Louis XIV in the 18th century to the founding of the famed Paris museum.
“We are finally seeing this project go from a dream to reality,” Nouvel tells Galerie, who was tasked with designing the building back in 2006. The Pritzker Prize–winning French architect, who helms the firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel, took the project’s Middle East location as the central inspiration for his design, modeling the 55 stark-white cubes that comprise the museum after a traditional low-lying Arabian city. A splendid metal-lattice dome that measures 590 feet in diameter covers the structure. Using layers of perforated metal, the result is a mesmerizing display of dappled light, an effect inspired by the palm fronds in the Al Ain Oasis, that also works to provide respite from the region’s brutal climate.
See the slideshow below to take an tour of the Louvre Abu Dhabi with Jean Nouvel.