Louvre Abu Dhabi opens in United Arab Emirates

The project started 10 years ago.

ByABC News
November 21, 2017, 6:47 PM

— -- The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened to the public on Nov. 11, a project 10 years in the making.

The ambitious venture, a partnership between the United Arab Emirates and France, involved 17 French cultural institutions and a $1.2 billion agreement to share the name and art of the world famous Louvre in Paris, according to The Associated Press.

Journalists tour of the new Louvre museum ahead of it's opening in Abu Dhabi, Nov. 7, 2017.
Benno Schwinghammer/DPA via Newscom

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Novel designed the sprawling complex of 55 buildings anchored by a huge dome, almost 600 feet in diameter. The latticed roof filters in light, reflecting the importance of shade and symbolic of Arab architecture.

“It wishes to create a welcoming world serenely combing light and shadow, reflection and calm,” Novel said in a statement.

Boat lights are reflected on the water in front of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Nov. 6, 2017.
Kamran Jebreili/AP

The complex is surrounded by water, is accessible only by boat and required complicated engineering to accomplish.

"Monumental Statue with two heads" from Jordan about 6500 BCE, is displayed at the new Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi.
Kamran Jebreili/AP

At an estimated cost of $650 million, the museum features over 20,000 feet of gallery space, and will display art on loan as well as the museum’s own growing collection, which has over 600 works so far. From ancient archaeological finds to contemporary installations, the exhibits are arranged chronologically and span the history of humanity.

"Portrait of a Woman" by Leonardo da Vinci, is displayed at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi.
Kamran Jebreili/AP

Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronniere” from the Louvre in Paris will be shown at the opening, as well as works from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

"Fountain of Light" by Ai Weiwei, is displayed at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi.
Kamran Jebreili/AP

A 2015 Human Rights Watch report revealed slave labor conditions during the museum's construction. According to The New York Times, a New York University professor was barred from entering the UAE after criticizing conditions of the workers.

The grounds of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, Nov. 7, 2017.
Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images