The Louvre Abu Dhabi
is simply surreal

There’s so much “wow” in the Louvre Abu Dhabi that it’s hard to know where to begin.

I was lucky enough that a cruise I took in the United Arab Emirates just before Covid struck stopped in Abu Dhabi. Then when a couple of ports closed their borders to tourists, we had an extra day added to our Abu Dhabi stop. I seriously felt like I'd hit the jackpot because I knew this would give me the time I needed to properly visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Compared to the Louvre in Paris, the Louvre Abu Dhabi might seem like a smaller and lesser-known counterpart. I mean, be honest: Did you even know there was a second Louvre?

But what this one lacks in size, it more than makes up for in its breadth and diversity of collections of everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary art installations. The museum houses a wide range of famous works of art, including Jacques-Louis David's iconic portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Louvre in Paris has an impressive collection of European art, but the Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases art from all over the world, making it a true global cultural hub. One of the coolest things here is how the collections are organized. Instead of grouping art by geographical region or time period, the museum organizes its collections thematically. It's a whole new way of looking at art to see how different cultures and civilizations have approached similar themes, such as birth, death or love.

And then there is the building itself — the cherry on top.

Designed by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel, the actual building is a work of art in and of itself. Situated on Saadiyat Island and surrounded by water, the building is made up of 55 white geometric shapes which overlap to create a unique pattern of shadows and light. The dome is particularly impressive, as it appears to float above the rest of the building and is made up of nearly 8,000 metal stars. I do wonder if this might be the only museum in the world that keeps a lifeguard on staff!

Make sure you allow time for a meal at the very stunning, on-site open-air restaurant that looks out on the water. It's quite pricey, but file it under "once in a lifetime" like I did and you'll be fine!

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is probably not as easy to get to as the Louvre in Paris. But once you get here you'll wonder why you waited so long. Whether your interest is in art, architecture or culture, I think you'll come away from the Louvre Abu Dhabi feeling like you've witnessed and been a part of something very special.


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