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Image courtesy of UAE Department of Culture and Tourism

10,000 Years of Luxury at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The 10,000 Years Of Luxury exhibit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases 350 objects from 30 different countries, including jewellery, furniture, visual art pieces and high-fashion garments.

Nov 9, 2019

The “first comprehensive exhibition on the history of luxury in the world” opened to the public on Oct. 30. The 10,000 Years Of Luxury exhibit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases 350 objects, including jewellery, furniture, visual art pieces and high-fashion garments, from 30 different countries. It is an integral part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 2019/2020 season theme: Changing Societies.
“In this exhibition, we are exploring humanity’s connection to luxury across time and cultures, taking a long lens on the subject from ancient treasures to present-day haute couture. This approach is consistent with the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s universal narrative, which is part of our DNA,” explained Manuel Rabaté, the director of the museum.
Dr. Souraya Noujaim, the museum’s Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director, also shared the ambitions of the exhibition’s creators.
“This one-of-a-kind exhibition examines the multi-faceted aspects of luxury that have fascinated humans throughout time, with a focus on the materials and techniques that define precious objects. We aim to challenge preconceived notions of luxury and offer new perspectives on this ever-changing concept,” she said.
The exhibit has 12 rooms organized in chronological order, starting with objects from ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean empires, in an effort to explore how luxury items were distributed around the world through trade in the Middle Ages. Some notable artifacts include a Roman tablet depicting the deities Bacchus and Ariadne, a third-century gold bracelet found in Syria, a set of cosmetic spoons from ancient Egypt and the famous Abu Dhabi Pearl. One of the rooms is a recreation of an 18th-century Parisian boutique, intended to demonstrate how luxury became commercialized.
In addition to historical items, many haute couture dresses from brands such as CHANEL and Christian Dior will be exhibited. Some of the garments have specific historical significance, such as the first-ever ‘little black dress,’ which was designed by Coco Chanel. There are also various examples of furniture associated with the Art Deco movement on display. The final room of the exhibition has only one piece: an hourglass. The intention is to explore a modern definition of luxury that relies on freedom of choice and how time is spent.
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Images courtesy of UAE Department of Culture and Tourism
Quim Paredes, Class of 2022, serves as the Student Government’s academic representative for the Art and Art History program. Paredes is currently taking a class in Japanese art history and finds the study of luxury items within that context particularly useful.
“I think it gives a really good perspective on what was seen as precious at the time, how certain things that we take for granted ... were really precious to these people, but because we’ve been globalized and there are really cheap ways to make certain materials, it kind of desensitizes a lot of people to the simple, beautiful methods of creating art,” said Paredes.
On Oct. 29, Olivier Gabet, the Exhibition Curator and Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, gave a public speech, in which he elaborated on how luxury connects cultures across time and space.
“[Luxury is] like a new lingua franca between countries, a bridge to communication … it’s something quite special in the world, for better and for worse,” he summarized.
Paredes also pointed out the more personal side of observing museum pieces and art: “There is a different type of analysis that goes into art pieces. You really get to see the everyday lives — well, in some aspects, everyday lives and, in some aspects, extremely luxurious lives — of some people.”
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Image courtesy of UAE Department of Culture and Tourism
10,000 Years Of Luxury is open until Feb. 18, 2020. General admission tickets normally cost 60 AED, but there is a discount of 30 AED for those aged between 13 and 22 (both ages inclusive). For more information, you can follow the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or check the museum’s website.
Oscar Bray is a staff illustrator. Email him at
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