Portrait of the Abu Dhabi Louvre with domes…

Construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has reached a project milestone with the installation of the 85 super-sized steel elements that make up the "floating dome" structure. 

The 7,000 tonne dome now rests on 120 temporary support towers but will eventually sit on just four piers and cover two-thirds of the museum. The aim of the designer, French architect Jean Nouvel, is to create a "rain of light" effect in the interior of the museum. To achieve this, the steel cladding is engineered to form about 8,000 "stars" that will allow sunlight to enter the building.

The building as it stands currently

The 6,681m2 permanent gallery will house the museum’s main collection. This will range from the Bronze Age artifacts to Pop Art, but will focus on bridging the gap between eastern and western art. Thirteen French galleries will make artworks available, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Palace of Versailles. The Paris Louvre is to loan 300 of its works, including Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of an unknown woman, Claude Monet’s Gare Saint-Lazare and Andy Warhol’s Big Electric Chair. The temporary gallery will cover 2,364m2. 

Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, the chairman of the organisation behind the project, said: "This will be the first time many of these works have travelled to Abu Dhabi or even the Middle East, and are a rare opportunity to see important art from French museums."

The "rain of light" effect

A French source told the Agence France-Presse that the Abu Dhabi authorities would not refuse any works on the grounds of nudity or religious symbolism. 

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the Saadiyat Cultural District of Abu Dhabi, near the Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, about 3km from downtown Abu Dhabi. 

Ali Al Hammadi, the chief executive of the UAE’s Tourism Development and Investment Company, said: "This is a major milestone in the museum’s development, and great achievement for everyone involved because the execution of the design is very complex and one that is unprecedented in the architectural world."

Construction of all the museum galleries has been completed structurally and the project is expected to be open to the public in December next year. 

The final cost of the construction is expected to be about $630m. In 2007, Abu Dhabi paid $520m for the right to use the Louvre "brand".

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