Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island is already a special place; golden beaches stretching into the turquoise sea, top class dining venues, all only minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi. However, it’s about to get a stroke of added artistic inspiration as it becomes host to the city’s Cultural District. Aside from the Zayed National Museum and the Performing Arts Centre, both to be housed within stunning architecture, the globally recognised institutions of the Louvre and the Guggenheim will be represented, making Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, a focal point for the arts across the world.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Due to open: 2015
The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the first of the new museums to open, and construction is well underway behind its high walls. The building, designed by the legendary Jean Nouvel, will be an impressive landmark; a 180m diameter, 7,000 tonne dome sat atop four pillars on a man-made platform. The area is dammed off, but before its opening in 2015 water will be flooded back to give it the feel of an island. The large dome will also let natural light through, dappling the public areas with sunshine. Inside the gallery the museum will present major objects from the fields of archaeology, fine arts and decorative arts, plus all regions, periods (including contemporary art) and the narrative of art history.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Due to open: 2017
The fantastic Frank Gehry-designed architecture for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be spectacular and create one of the most unusual buildings in the country. The 450,000 square foot museum will house a huge collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as special exhibitions from the Guggenheim Foundation’s extensive collection. It will be built on the corner of the island stretching out to sea and will incorporate many traditional Arabic design cues.

Manarat Al Saadiyat
Home to a fascinating exhibition showing the future development of the island, Manarat Al Saadiyat is also a functioning gallery in its own right. The high ceilings and light, airy feel of this contemporary space create the perfect place to appreciate the sculptures, paintings and other works displayed in ever-changing exhibitions. Next to Manarat Al Saadiyat is the Norman Foster designed UAE Pavilion. The striking structure was first exhibited at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 then shipped to Saadiyat Island and re-erected. It’s now a regular space for art and other exhibits.

New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
Located at the entrance to the new NYU campus, the NYUAD Art Gallery displays museum-quality exhibitions covering past and present subjects with a special emphasis on the region. A second gallery, the Project Room in the university’s Arts Centre, highlights community-driven works of art. The gallery also supports academic and experimental installations, and international landmark exhibitions. Free admission.

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