ABU DHABI - On 21 April 2013 the highly anticipated inaugural exhibition of the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened to fanfare and did not disappoint. Unfortunately I was not able to attend it due to our Orientalist and Islamic sales in London, but Robin Woodhead our CEO and International Chairman was able to relay some first-hand information. With great attendance and visits by HH the Crown Prince, Louvre personalities and VIPs of the art world, the long-awaited exhibition spelled out Abu Dhabi’s ambitious and far-reaching plans for development of the arts in the UAE.

At the opening of Birth of a Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s inaugural exhibition. Courtesy of the Saadiyat Cultural District.

Robin told us, "For a museum which sets out to represent a universal ‘connectedness,’ this first opportunity to see what has been so thoughtfully, indeed elegantly acquired was an encouraging insight into the curatorial ambitions for the Collection."

HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomes guests at the Birth of a Museum opening. Courtesy of the Saadiyat Cultural District.

More than 130 works were unveiled from the Museum’s first permanent collection, ranging from paintings by Picasso and Mondrian to Islamic miniatures. The universality of the collection, its ability to connect ancient sections of a Qur’an alongside a 16th century statue of ‘Christ showing his Wounds,’ as well as a Torah, underline Olivier Gabet’s statement that “there are no red lines in this exhibition.”

An exquisite building designed by Jean Nouvel will open in 2015 to house a collection that will have important works by Picasso, Manet, Gauguin,  Magritte, Twombly and Klee, amongst others. Favourable reviews and a positive reception from these nascent stages point to a promising outcome, and the birth of yet another extraordinary regional art institution.