Louvre Abu Dhabi opens highway gallery

 La Belle Ferroniere, Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece that is currently hanging in the Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of 10 billboards that trigger a radio introduction to be played to motorists as they drive past. Image courtesy of Louvre Abu Dhabi

La Belle Ferroniere, Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece that is currently hanging in the Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of 10 billboards that trigger a radio introduction to be played to motorists as they drive past. Image courtesy of Louvre Abu Dhabi

For those of you who don't know it, the road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is long, straight and not all together interesting. Of course, millions of commuters do it every day and personally, since the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 2017, I have done it many more times than in the months before that.

Well now, that trip just got a lot more interesting. Yesterday, the Louvre Abu Dhabi unveiled its radio-guided Highway Gallery, which showcases 10 artworks and artefacts from the museum’s collection on large billboards alongside the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. When you drive past these billboards, if your radio is tuned into Radio 1 FM (100.5 FM), Classic FM (91.6 FM) and Emarat FM (95.8 FM), it will automatically play a 30-second story about each piece. And it's the world’s first audio-visual experience of this kind.

 The  Sarcophagus of Princess Henuttawy  from Ancient Egypt is another of the 10 billboards launched to make the drive to the museum more interesting as well as to mark Innovation Month in the UAE. Image courtesy of Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Sarcophagus of Princess Henuttawy from Ancient Egypt is another of the 10 billboards launched to make the drive to the museum more interesting as well as to mark Innovation Month in the UAE. Image courtesy of Louvre Abu Dhabi

The billboards include Islamic work from the Mediterranean region; the exceptional Egyptian Sarcophagus of Princess Henuttawy; a coin inspired by Alexander the Great and discovered in the UAE, on loan from Al Ain Museum; and an 8,000-year-old two-headed statue one of the oldest monumental statues in the history of humanity, on loan from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. The paintings include Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of a woman, La Belle Ferronnière, a loan from Musée du Louvre; Van Gogh’s 1887 Self Portrait, on loan from Musée d'Orsay; and Édouard Manet’s The Fife Player, on loan from Musée d'Orsay. Frm the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Collection there is the Young Emir Studying by Osman Hamdi Bey; Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington; and Piet Mondrian’s iconic Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black.  

Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Chair of Abu Dhabi Media, said: “This exhibition puts Abu Dhabi on the map of global innovations that underpin its axes of art, culture and information. In alignment with the national strategy of innovation that aims to position the UAE among the most innovative countries in the world over the next seven years. We have built an advanced platform that provides the public with a variety of categories and interests, by providing them with rich and diverse content that contributes to our mission in transferring culture and knowledge. Allowing the community to benefit from the technological development integrated in the UAE’s media and cultural sectors.”