PARIS // Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, joined the French president, Francois Hollande at the Louvre in Paris for the opening of Birth of a Museum, the first international exhibition showcasing objects from the permanent collection of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“Today we are celebrating an important stage in the development of Louvre Abu Dhabi,” Sheikh Sultan said.
The exhibition – in the Hall Napoleon, the largest temporary exhibition space in the museum – “marked a defining moment in the history of the museum”, he added.
Mr Hollande took the opportunity to celebrate the new museum, which he described as “our biggest contemporary cultural project and a symbol of the strong partnership between the UAE and France”.
“You could have chosen others to do this,” he said to an audience of politicians, museum experts and VIPs. “But, you chose France.
“This is due to the mutual respect we have for our cultures and our identities.”
Among the guests were Jean-Luc Martinez, the president director of the Louvre, Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and designer of Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Aurelie Filippetti, the French minister of culture and communication.
UAE representatives included Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of TCA Abu Dhabi, Jasem Al Darmaki, the deputy director general and Mohammed Al Raisi, the UAE Ambassador to France.
Mr Hollande clarified the relationship between the Louvre and Louvre Abu Dhabi, a relationship that has been the subject of speculation among the French public and press.
“Louvre Abu Dhabi is not an imitation of the Louvre, because we all know the Louvre is inimitable and not transportable,” he said. “What links these museums is a universal idea of culture, and Abu Dhabi has displayed that will to be universal.”
The French president ended his speech on a light-hearted note, referring to the very different associations Louvre Abu Dhabi’s projected opening date, December 2, 2015, has in France. On December 2 1851, president Louis Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup. Exactly a year later, he was named Napoleon III, Emperor of France.
“This will be a national holiday in Abu Dhabi but it has a very different meaning for us,” said Mr Hollande. “But, do not worry. We will be there.”
In a separate event, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre at Chateau de Fontainebleau will open today. The ceremony will be attended by Sheikh Sultan and officials from the French Ministry of Culture & Communication.