The oldest pearl on display in Louvre Abu Dhabi

The oldest pearl on display in Louvre Abu Dhabi

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The world's oldest pearl was exhibited to the public for the first time from October 30, 2019 at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This is an important moment for this new cultural venue in full development. Do you know the history of this place? Would you like to discover the pearl of Abu Dhabi?

In this article, we will introduce you :

  • The origin of the creation of the Louvre of Abu Dhabi
  • Architectural particularities and the organization of its collections
  • The age and appearance of the oldest pearl in the world
  • The goal of the exhibition "10,000 years of Luxury" which hosts itWe wish you an excellent reading!

We wish you an excellent reading !


The Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a museum at the crossroads of civilizations

An unprecedented intergovernmental agreement between the United Arab Emirates and France

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of an unprecedented gesture that lays the foundation for a new type of cultural collaboration on an unprecedented scale between two countries around the birth of a national institution.

Born of an intergovernmental agreement signed on March 6, 2007 between the United Arab Emirates and France, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first universal museum in the Arab world. Linking Abu Dhabi with the name of the Louvre, this museum will present works of historical, cultural and sociological interest, both ancient and contemporary, from all over the world.

The New Louvre located on the island of Saadiyat within the Cultural District

It is built on the island of Saadiyat (the island of happiness), a natural island of 27 km2 (the equivalent of a third of the surface of Paris). It is part of the Cultural District: a neighborhood composed of renowned cultural institutions. These include the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, designed by Norman Foster, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, designed by Frank Gehry.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is intended to complement the other museums in the Emirates: it should help transform the artistic and cultural scene in the Middle East.


A cultural venue with virtuoso architecture

Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker Prize, is the architect behind the design of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. He wanted his building to adopt "an aesthetic in keeping with its function as a sanctuary for the most precious works of art". It covers almost 64,000 m2, including 6,000 m2 dedicated to the permanent collections and an additional 2,000 m2 for temporary exhibitions.

The dome, 180m in diameter, is openworked in the manner of interlaced palm leaves traditionally used in the United Arab Emirates. Below, buildings are directly in contact with the sea. They are freely inspired by the buried cities and the prototype of the eastern city. Urban and geometrical, this "medina" of rooms, like the district of a city, includes about thirty buildings of varying heights from 4 to 12 m.

Inspired by the falaj system of ancient Arab engineering, a water circuit crosses the museum, making it a haven of freshness inviting visitors to take a walk along the water's edge.

A museum different in the organization and breadth of its collections

The Louvre of Paris, like many traditional museums, presents its collections according to a breakdown by school, technique, and material. This makes it possible to recognize the singularity of an ensemble, but prevents one from seeing the influences, exchanges and circulation of ideas as well as know-how.

The Abu Dhabi Museum is not a copy of the Louvre in Paris. It builds its singularity on a transversal vision of artistic creation. It exposes the connections between civilizations or cultures apparently distant in time and space. Universal themes and common influences are highlighted to illustrate the similarities linked to the sharing of the same human experiences despite cultural differences.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi's collection is gradually being built up, including ancient and contemporary works from different countries. The objective is to collect works of the highest quality.

Among these exceptional works are a gold bracelet with lion figures made in Iran nearly 3,000 years ago, a fibula (brooch) of gold and garnets from Italy dating from the 5th century A.D., a magnificent Virgin and Child by Bellini, paintings by Jordaens, Caillebotte, Manet, Gauguin, Magritte, an unpublished paper paste by Picasso, and nine paintings by the American painter Cy Twombly, who died a few years ago.

The collection does not only present productions from the Middle East or the West: a soninké / djennenké figure from Mali, a dancing Śiva from India or an octagonal box from China, among others, illuminate different geographical areas.

In 2019, it welcomes the oldest known pearl in the world, which we present to you right now.


The pearl of Abu Dhabi

What does the oldest pearl in the world look like? How old is it?

The oldest pearl in the world is also called the "Pearl of Abu Dhabi". It was discovered by archaeologists on the island of Marawah, off the capital of the United Arab Emirates. This jewel belongs to the Zayed National Museum, located in Abu Dhabi.

The pearl was expertised with Carbon 14 by a team of scientist. These analyses revealed that the layers of rocks from which the pearl comes from date from 5.600 to 5.800 years before our era, during the Neolithic period. Therefore, it would be more than 8,000 years old. "The discovery of the world's oldest pearl in Abu Dhabi clearly shows that much of our recent economic and cultural history has deep roots dating back to the dawn of prehistory," said Mohammed Khalifa al-Mubarak, head of the Culture and Tourism Department in the statement.

The exhibition "10,000 Years of Luxury" which exposes the pearl of Abu Dhabi

The exhibition "10,000 Years of Luxury" explores the notion of luxury, its changing meaning over the centuries through 350 objects coming notably from French museums. The Department of Culture and Tourism has declared that it will take place from October 30, 2019 to February 18, 2020. The pearl of Abu Dhabi will be presented as well as the history of pearls in culture.

Experts suggested that pearls were exchanged with Mesopotamia for ceramics and other goods, or worn as jewelry. The pearl industry flourished in the Gulf until the 1930s, when the first oil discoveries were made and cultured pearls appeared.

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