Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Collections: A Journey Through Time and Culture

The Louvre Art Museum Abu Dhabi is like no other. It’s a melting pot of art and artifacts from all over the world, where history and creativity collide.

And the best part? It’s constantly evolving. With new additions and exciting changes, there’s always something fresh to discover.

But with an ocean of art to choose from, where do you even start?

It’s a common challenge for anyone stepping into the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. With so many choices, it’s easy to feel lost in the maze.

Don’t fret! We’re here to help you navigate the fantastic range of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s art collections. 

No jargon, no fluff – just a straightforward guide to get you started.

We’ll walk you through the different types of art collections available and highlight the most popular ones.

Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how to make your selection.

1. First Village

The First Village Collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a blast from the past!

It takes you back to the very beginning, around 10,000 BC, when humans were just starting to settle down.

You’ll find all sorts of cool stuff in this collection, from stone tools and pottery to little figurines from all over the world.

What makes this collection so special? It’s like a window into the lives of our ancient ancestors.

You get to see how they lived and interacted with each other, even way back then.

Female Figurine

Date: 3100 to 2800 BCE
Origin: Hierakonpolis, Egypt
Medium: Bone

During the end of Egypt’s prehistoric era, numerous ivory, bone, stone, and earthenware figurines emerged, discovered in tombs and hidden within ancient temples.

Among these, a nude female figure stands, her right arm at her side and her left supporting a full bosom. With balanced proportions and delicate features, she foreshadows pharaonic Egypt’s aesthetic norms.

Hand Axe

Date: 500000 BCE
Origin: Indre-et-Loire, France
Medium: Flint

This prehistoric hand axe from France was made from flint around 500,000 BCE. It is a classic example of an Acheulean hand axe, which is a type of stone tool. that was produced by early hominins

for hundreds of thousands of years. The axe is roughly oval in shape, with a sharp edge on one side. It is likely that the axe was used for a variety of tasks, such as cutting wood, butchering animals, and scraping hides.

Woman Dressed in a Woolen Garment

Date: 2300 to 1700 BCE
Origin: Bactria, Central Asia
Medium: chlorite, calcite

This 25 cm tall female statuette from the Oxus civilization (3,000 to 2,000 years ago) is one of the best of its kind. It’s made of chlorite and calcite and shows a standing woman with a powerful look. The statuette was probably placed in a tomb to protect the dead in the afterlife. Finding similar pieces in Pakistan and Iran shows that there was a vast trade network at the time.

Jar with Cord-Patterned Decoration

Date: 3500 to 2500 BCE
Origin: North Kanto, Japan
Medium: Terracotta

Jomon pottery is a type of ancient Japanese pottery that was made by hand without a potter’s wheel.

It was smoothed with tools and decorated with cord imprints, then fired outdoors with wood fuel.

The pottery has stylized forms that represent nature, and it may hold undiscovered ancient myths. It’s a remarkable window into history.

Plank Idol with Two Heads

Date: 2300 to 1900 BCE
Medium: polished and incised terracotta

This 3,000-year-old Cypriot idol is a classic example of early geometric art. Carved from a single piece of clay, it has two heads that share a body.

The face and body are decorated with lines that may represent tattoos, clothes, or other adornments.

From the front, the idol looks like one person, but from the back, it looks like two.

Also read: Discover the world-class Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exhibitions 2023, featuring masterpieces worldwide.

2. First Great Powers

The First Great Powers collection at Louvre Abu Dhabi is a collection of over 600 ancient artworks and artifacts from around the world, dating back to around 3000 BCE.

It explores the emergence of the first great powers in human history, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization, and the Yellow River Civilization.

The collection features many objects, including sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and weapons. Some of the highlights include:

Male Praying Figure in Louvre Abu Dhabi

Date: 2400 to 2300 BCE
Origin: Iraq or Syria
Medium: Alabaster

One of the most notable male praying figure artifacts in the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection is a statue of a man in prayer from the 3rd millennium BCE.

The statue is made from alabaster and depicts a man standing with his hands raised in front of him. The man’s eyes are closed, and his expression is one of peace and serenity.

The Goddess Isis nursing her son Horus

Date: 800 to 400 BCE
Origin: Egypt
Medium: Bronze

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has an exceptional collection of sculptures and statuettes of the goddess Isis nursing her son Horus from 750 BC to the 4th century AD.

These artifacts offer a glimpse into ancient Egyptian values, particularly the importance of motherhood. Isis embodied motherhood, fertility, magic, healing, and guardian of the deceased, while Horus symbolized hope and renewal. The collection beautifully conveys the profound mother-child bond and the idea of rebirth.

Pyramidion Inscribed with the Name of Huy

Date: 1335 to 1295 BCE
Origin: Deir el-Medina, Egypt
Medium: Sandstone

This Pyramidion dates back to the New Kingdom (1539–1075 BCE) and originates from Deir-el-Medina, a place where craftsmen constructed royal tombs.

It shows Huy, the deceased, depicted on all sides, kneeling with raised hands in devotion. An inscription tells us he served in the royal tomb’s “Place of Truth.”

Decadrachm with an Image of the Nymph Arethusa

Date: 412 to 393 BCE
Origin: Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Medium: Silver

Syracuse, founded by Corinthian colonists in 734-733 BCE in Sicily, had a rich history of coin production. The decadrachm from the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a standout example.

It features iconic images like a four-horse chariot (quadriga) and the nymph Arethusa’s head, associated with the city’s freshwater spring. The nymph’s intricate features and flowing hair exude her beauty and strength. Engraver Euainetos’ signature signifies his status as a celebrated artist of antiquity, known beyond Syracuse.

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3. Civilization and Empires

The Civilizations and Empires art collections at Louvre Abu Dhabi are an amazing collection of over 600 artworks and artifacts from around the world, dating back to prehistory and going all the way up to the present day.

The collection includes art from Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization, the Yellow River Civilization, Greece, Rome, China, India, and Japan.

Man Dressed in a Roman Toga, Called “The Orator”

Date: 100 to 150 CE
Origin: Italy
Medium: Marble

This Roman portrait is a unique “togatus” statue, representing the subject’s social and political status through their toga garment.

Likely a high-ranking individual, it exhibits remarkable craftsmanship, hinting at a connection with rulers. The intricately carved toga highlights their successful public career.

Head of a Roman Emperor, Fragment of a Monumental statue

Date: 100 to 150 CE
Origin: Italy
Medium: Marble

Found in the River Tiber, this striking bronze head, part of a colossal statue, probably portrays an emperor from the late 2nd century CE.

It’s monumental, adorned with thick hair and a notable beard. Believed to symbolize a rival for power after Emperor Commodus’ reign.


Date: 100 to 300 CE
Origin: Gandhara, Pakistan
Medium: Schist

This Bodhisattva, with half-closed eyes and a meditative aura, reflects Indian religious traditions.

The influence of Greek clothing, known as himation, is evident in the draped attire. The intricate details and regal ornaments highlight the Buddha’s princely transformation.

Winged Dragon

Date: 450 BCE-250 BCE
Origin: Northern China
Medium: Bronze

This incredible sculpture depicts a powerful winged dragon from ancient China, possibly dating back to the Warring States period. Its origin in Yan Xiadu, a capital city, remains a mystery.

Influenced by Central Asian and Near Eastern art, it skillfully combines imaginative and precise animal features. As the largest freestanding dragon sculpture in Chinese art, it holds immense historical and artistic value. Owned by Adolphe Stoclet, it adorned his collection for nearly a century, symbolizing good fortune, fertility, and the mystique of the East.

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4. Universal Religion

The Universal Religions collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a collection of art and objects from the world’s five major religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

It features over 100 artworks and artifacts from different cultures and time periods, including a page from the Blue Quran, a statue of the Buddha, and a Hindu temple sculpture.

Christ Showing His Wound

Date: 1515 to 1520
Origin: Bavaria, Germany or Austria
Medium: Painted wood

This Late Gothic standing image of the risen Christ, with the crown of thorns and the wounds of crucifixion, triumphantly celebrates the incarnation of the Christian God.

Carved by a German master, it vividly and colorfully presents the humanity of God, in keeping with the reference to Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of mankind. This artistic expression of the Christian faith, imbued with sentiment, was produced shortly before the Protestant Reformation.

Gospel in Old Church Slavonic

Date: End of 16th century
Origin: Moscow, Russia
Medium: Ink, color and gold on paper

The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Gospel in Old Church Slavonic collection features manuscripts from the 11th to 16th centuries. It includes gospels, lectionaries, and psalters, some of which are beautifully illuminated.

The collection is notable for its early manuscripts written in the Glagolithic script, the oldest known Slavic alphabet. It is a valuable resource for scholars of Slavic languages and literature, as well as for anyone interested in the history of Christianity in Eastern Europe.

Dancing Shiva

Date: 950 to 1000 CE
Origin: Tamil Nadu, Southern India
Medium: Bronze

The four-armed Hindu god Shiva, a member of the divine triad, is both human and fantastical.

He is the agent of destruction and renewal, the destroyer of ignorance and the guide to liberation. He is an ascetic and a family man, and one of his best-known forms is Nataraja, Lord of the Dance.

Sho-Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion

Date: 1100 to 1200 CE
Origin: Japan
Medium: Wood, black lacquer and gold

This sumptuously dressed bodhisattva sculpture, originally placed in a temple, depicts a prince-like figure mediating between the human and divine worlds.

Bodhisattvas are highly venerated figures whose purpose is to encourage humans to reach nirvana, a state synonymous with deliverance from our earthly existence.

Featured Image: Thetimes.co.uk

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