An Oasis in the Desert? Issues and Intricacies Concerning the Louvre-Abu Dhabi Museum Expansion

By Taylor L. Poulin
2010, Vol. 2 No. 02 | pg. 1/1

“You have created a Museum; carefully assemble here every masterpiece which the Republic [of France] already possesses…and the entire world will be eager to deposit its treasures, its singularities, its accomplishments; and the documents of its history: that [the Museum] be the archive of the world.”1

This statement was penned in 1793 by Comte François Antoine de Boissy d’Anglas to the museum commission in charge of filling the newly created Musée Central des Arts in Paris – the future Musée du Louvre. At the time it was terribly confident, but has become a quite accurate description of the museum. The Louvre does indeed contain objects from all over the world and from all stretches of time. Symbolically, it holds great cultural significance for the French, and, as supported by its very long history, owns a seminal position in representing the French national identity. However, recent developments have seen the Louvre taking steps toward national and international expansion, with the latter in particular putting this notion of a unique and intrinsic French identity in jeopardy. Within four years from now, two satellite museums will be created: the first in Lens, a small, industrial city north of Paris, and the second on Saadiyat Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Indeed, the Louvre’s origin and early development promoted the country’s newfound freedom, equality, and wealth, offering to the French people cultural knowledge as well as the ability to identify themselves as members of this powerful nation.
A satellite of the Louvre built on French soil is not a new concept,2 and thus the Lens museum project is fairly accepted. However, the French reception of the Abu Dhabi endeavor has been much more critical and understandably so, as the Louvre represents both a structure and collection that is deeply entrenched in French cultural and national identity. The argument in France revolves around the motivations of Abu Dhabi in proposing this expansion and the resulting consequences for France. The following will explain the current situation involving France, Abu Dhabi and the Louvre from historical and theoretical perspectives, as well as current opinions of French detractors and Abu Dhabian supporters concerning this project. To these ends, I will begin by analyzing the history of the Louvre as well as a brief history of the early museum network in France, presenting how the museum has come into its role as a point of national identification for the French. Next I will illustrate the present issues concerning the agreement between the Louvre and Abu Dhabi, following this with a discussion of the Louvre-Abu Dhabi agreement. I will look to the power/knowledge relationship proposed by Michel Foucault to explain possible motivations and issues surrounding the project, as well as the postcolonial ideas of Homi Bhabha to explain how, in contrast with colonization of old, the new satellite may be creating a new type of colonization. To conclude, I will set the Louvre’s actions against those of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, to determine whether or not the Louvre should embrace a network of international satellites in the future as could be hypothesized by its involvement with Abu Dhabi.

The Musée Central des Arts opened its doors to the public on 10 August 1793.3 Built in 1190 under Philippe Auguste (1165-1223) to serve as a fortress against invading Normans, the structure known as the Palais du Louvre had served in some kind of royal or defensive capacity until the late eighteenth century. The move in 1793 toward an open display of what had formerly been a collection reserved for royals – built carefully by royal ancestors reaching back to François I (1515-1547) – was a bow to the victory of the French Revolutionaries, who had fought against the monarchy for an equal and fraternal society. In visiting the museum, the French citizen was to witness the glory of the country exhibited through the now nationally owned cultural treasures displayed there, and ultimately to understand himself “as a citizen of history’s most civilized and advanced nation-state.”4

Indeed, the Louvre’s origin and early development promoted the country’s newfound freedom, equality, and wealth, offering to the French people cultural knowledge as well as the ability to identify themselves as members of this powerful nation. The mission of the revolutionaries to open the Louvre to general admission was saturated with political undertones. The goal was twofold: to prove, in successfully opening the Louvre to the people, that this newly liberated governmental power was greater than any that had come before it, and to educate the people in a manner conducive to the Republican leanings of the government.5 Andrew McClellan explains the opinion of Revolutionary writer Armand Kersaint, author of Discours sur les monuments publics, on the effects the Louvre would have for the country as an open institution: “Completing the Louvre, [Kersaint] stated, would demonstrate that the new regime had accomplished ‘in several years what ten kings and fifty prodigal ministers had failed to do in several centuries.’”6 In addition, the government promoted national ownership of all the cultural treasures the Louvre contained. “The perception of collective ownership helped fashion…the ‘republican mold’ and to confer on the citizen ‘a national character and the demeanor of a free man.’ …At one and the same time, the museum symbolized the stability of the state and the triumph of the people.”7

The enormous exhibition mounted in the Louvre at its opening on 10 August – including over 661 objects, mostly paintings, sculpture and objets d’art8 – was an important statement about the glory of the arts in France and, in equal measure, about the ability of the government to provide these beautiful objects for the education of the country. “Authority alone was not enough to direct a revolution: the citizenry had to be molded through direct and willing participation. The consent and participation of the people [in Revolutionary ideals] would be secured through a comprehensive system of public instruction….Man had to learn to be free; he had to be taught to reject his old values and to place his faith in the future of the Republic.”9 The Louvre and its contents were thus representations of the recently achieved national unity and a step toward fulfilling the Revolutionary desire to see France accept its new government. Culture was no longer reserved for those in positions of authority, but was now accessible to the entire French public – upper and lower classes. This was made possible through the successes of the Revolution and the government’s wish to see the whole country benefit from the knowledge to be had by it.

A few years after the Louvre was made accessible to the public, the work of one man enhanced tenfold the collection and reputation of the museum. Napoleon Bonaparte (emperor from 1804-1814/15) served France as a general before becoming one of the country’s most iconic leaders. As a general, he spent several years battling his way across Europe and Egypt, aiming to secure territory for his country. With an additional desire to see Paris as the cultural epitome of Europe, he sent loot, in the form of artwork, from his conquests back to the city to be displayed in the Louvre.10 However, feeling that the Louvre was beginning to overflow with the magnificent works Napoleon shipped back to Paris, then Ministor of Interior, J.A. Chaptal, sent a letter to the emperor: “It cannot be disputed that Paris must retain the greatest works in every category. …But the inhabitants of the provinces may also claim an inviolable share of the fruits of our conquests and the heritage of French artists.”11 Chaptal proposed the solution of creating museum outposts in the provinces, located in cities where “sufficient understanding already exists to afford them adequate appreciation.”12 The twelve cities that met Chaptal’s standards included Marseille, Dijon, Caen, Bordeaux, Brussels, Geneva, Mainz,13 Lille, Rouen, Toulouse, Lyon, Nancy, Rennes, Nantes, and Strasbourg. Agreeing with Chaptal, in 1800 Napoleon signed a document ordering museums to be built in these cities. The new museums would receive paintings from the Louvre and ideally establish cultural and national pride throughout the land.14

The Louvre and its holdings, with its original objectives of education and public inclusion and now its incredible, almost unbelievable collection, had set a superb example for how the power of the country – cultural and militaristic – could be displayed. Napoleon clearly saw political advantages in displaying artwork throughout France that had been appropriated from all over Europe. He desired that his country be the superlative in power and glory – what better way than by proving he had collected more cultural treasures than even Paris could hold, works which were considered elemental to other countries’ own national heritage? For example, during one of his Italian conquests Napoleon was able to negotiate the Laocoön from Rome, bringing it to Paris to be displayed.15  This significant sculpture, created sometime between 42 and 20 B.C., depicts Laocoön and his sons being strangled by snakes for their unsuccessful efforts to expose the Trojan Horse as an attack on the Romans by the Greeks.16 Thought to be created for the Roman emperor Nero, the sculpture was buried under the streets of Rome until 1506, when it was rediscovered and appropriately lauded as a work of incredible beauty and import. “Finding the Laocoön was a dream come true for well-educated Renaissance artists and patrons who were intent on restoring Rome to its ancient glory…By March of 1506, Pope Julius II managed to procure the sculpture for his own antiquities collection, and in July of the same year he triumphantly transported the sculpture through the streets of the Rome.”17 The sculpture’s dynamic, tangled composition influenced many later European artists, but arguably had the most notable effect on Michelangelo.

[Michelangelo’s] oeuvre clearly demonstrates that he was intrigued by the sculpture's muscular tension and by the spiraling motion of thecentralfigure as he struggles to free himself from the strangling snakes. On the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Michelangelo created numerous figures with similarly muscular anatomies and placed them in serpentinata positions that recall that of the central figure in the Laocoön.18

The Laocoön quickly became a major inspiration for many Renaissance artists, and when it was carted away to France its loss must have been felt deeply in Italy.19 However, Napoleon was intent on his goal. In spreading art around the provinces, the emperor was uniting his country on the basis of its cultural supremacy – which stemmed from the Louvre – and, in a way comparable to the Revolutionaries, offered knowledge, via the provincial museums, ultimately made possible by the power of the government.

The early museum hierarchy that arose in the provinces during the Napoleonic era was an excellent example of how power was created through the diffusion of knowledge. During the nineteenth century, the direction and control of these provincial museums was left largely to the local community to maintain. In his essay “The Bourgeoisie, Cultural Appropriation and the Art Museum in Nineteenth-Century France,” Daniel Sherman describes the evolution of the larger provincial museums from neglected, poorly-assembled collections consisting mostly of art sent by the government,20 to institutions that had the power to define and influence the community.21 This was done, he explains, through “a cast of characters: lawyers, merchants, ship-owners in the port cities, manufacturers in Rouen and Marseille, a sprinkling of bankers and real estate developers.” Clearly a powerful group, these members of the upper class desired to prove their authority as well in the cultural realm.22 They improved upon the collections with their own money and rebuilt the museums in ciphered architecture which the learned alone could truly appreciate.23 These efforts “present[ed] art as flowing naturally from commerce and industry, the defining activities of the nineteenth-century city and the source of the political power of its rulers.”24 The museum was offered to the whole community, but still maintained a sense of being a product of the elite. While it seemed democratic on the surface, the museum in general possessed a sense of a special access to knowledge, and a sense of exclusion. The French provincial museum is a perfect example of the creation and production of power, as knowledge was offered freely but in a dissimulated manner; the upper class was presenting knowledge masked by an affirmation of their status in society. Where national identity is concerned, this development could be positioned as the maintenance of local over national pride. However, I would argue that if it were not for Napoleon originally effectuating the network of provincial museums, and his desire to see France linked by a common awareness of the country’s cultural superiority starting with the Louvre, then the nineteenth-century local elite would not have had this avenue through which to exercise powers of cultural influence in their own society, ultimately boosting the overall cultural authority of the country.

The years in between the Louvre’s early development and its current activity saw a great deal of change, occurring simultaneously in the structuring of the Louvre as well as the notion of national identity it would produce. The present physical composition of the Louvre – a two-armed U shape – was created in 1871 when the Tuileries Palace, a vestige of Catherine de Medici (1547-1559), was burnt to the ground by revolutionaries opposed to the ruler at the time, Napoleon III (1852-1870).25 A little over a hundred years later, the motley spread of galleries, wings, and museums within the Louvre were finally united in 1989 with I.M. Pei’s underground entrance, marked aboveground by a seventy foot-tall glass pyramid. The pyramid sparked an intense debate over the appropriateness of something so modern placed amidst more traditional, refined architecture. It became evident through the uproar caused by the pyramid that the Louvre did indeed seem intrinsically connected to the French identity; the French were feeling threatened by the loss of the traditional façade of the Louvre.26

The clash over Pei’s pyramid has since dissipated, but questions surrounding the cause of the argument linger. How does a structure with precisely 817 years of existence and a history of display lasting over 200 years maintain a sense of the modern day? Is it even obligated to do so? One could argue that Pei’s pyramid and underground extension was an attempt to bring the Louvre up to date; at the very least, it gave the Louvre a badly needed interior coherence. Recent activities of the Louvre, too, could be seen as fulfilling a need to emphasize the museum’s importance in the global arena, as compared to other cultural institutions that have a history of global expansion: the Guggenheim of New York City and the Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg, for example, each have several satellites and are planning others. The Louvre’s own plans to expand are currently generating great controversy among the French, with some critics even going so far as to attack the project on the grounds that the Louvre is “selling its soul.”27

The specifics of the satellite museum project are described in the twenty-year contract the Louvre has signed with Abu Dhabi.28 For the duration of the contract, the satellite museum is allowed to use the name “Louvre,” and will also receive management expertise and loans of artwork. Originally,29 all the art to be displayed in the satellite was to come from the Louvre. However, in the contract signed in December 2006, “even if the institution calls itself the Louvre, all French museums in Paris, such as the Quai Branly, the Musée d’Orsay, Versailles and the Centre Pompidou, and also regional museums, could be involved.”30 France, then, will rotate four temporary shows per year in Abu Dhabi, with each show lasting a duration of two to four months for a span of ten years. In addition, the French museum will loan up to 300 works of art for semi-permanent display (a span of anywhere from three months to two years). Meanwhile, learning from the practices and collection of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi will work to create its own collection, management and title. For its part, Abu Dhabi will return roughly $1.3 billion to France.31

Upon hearing of the potential project and then the actual agreement, critics such as Françoise Cachin, former director of the organization Museums of France; Roland Recht, professor at the Collège de France; and Jean Clair, writer and former director of the Picasso Museum – all three important figures in the Parisian art world – argued against the Louvre-Abu Dhabi museum because of the dangers they see in the project, which focus on the potential globalization of the museum and the inevitable movement of art within such a network. In their joint editorial “Museums are not for sale,” published in Le Monde in December 2006, the three argued against the trend of the Guggenheim, which they call an “entertainment business” and credit with the “disastrous pioneering of the paid exportation of its collections throughout the entire world.”32 This so-called “pioneering” has meant that the Guggenheim now boasts branches in Bilbao, Las Vegas, Berlin and Venice, and is planning satellites in Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi. The authors support their criticisms of the developing global network of museums and museum exchange with an argument for the safety of their cultural masterpieces: “Of course, it is necessary to loan works of art if their condition allows it and if their security is guaranteed, but freely…[versus in exchange for money].” The safety of art during travel should be a primary concern in any situation, as the shipment of art to and from museums all over the world is a given in today’s practice of global exchanges. These critics’ use of the word “freely,” referring to how art should be exchanged, is a pointed statement against the money the Louvre is receiving for this endeavor.

The article maintains that art should be displayed for art’s sake, and not used for commercial measures: “On the moral plane, the commercial and media use of masterpieces of national patrimony, foundations of the history of our culture which the Republic must show and preserve for future generations, cannot but shock.” The authors steer argument toward le patrimoine, the concept of national patrimony that is of utmost important to the French. Le patrimoine has its own day of celebration in France, usually occurring in mid-September, in which public access to museums, opera houses, churches, theaters and other cultural establishments is free; this practice echoes the fact that the Louvre was open free to the public even at its birth as a museum in 1793 and supports the importance of culture to the French. The three critics seem to remind their readers of this importance in ethical terms (“On the moral plane”), indicating that the present treatment of French art and culture, represented by the Louvre-Abu Dhabi partnership, should be taken very seriously.

However, the type of exchange that Cachin, Clair and Recht call for is not the reality of the Abu Dhabi museum project. This newer type of exchange between museums – money for art, rather than art for art – is an interesting prospect in the growing world of museum expansion and museum identification, and it raises many questions. What does it mean for the intrinsically French identity of the Louvre, that a satellite be placed in Abu Dhabi? What does it mean for the French people, and any notion of national identity the Louvre once offered them? To the first question, one could posit the notion of cultural colonialism – that the Louvre is reaching out to extend Western influence and culture on the Middle East. While we cannot exactly view this project from a postcolonial perspective because the museum has yet to be built, Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial observations about how colonialism traditionally has functioned paves the way for more conversation on the topic, and highlights how the Louvre-Abu Dhabi project is the furthest thing from this function.

Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political and social authority within the modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives … intervene in those ideological discourses of modernity that attempt to give a hegemonic “normality” to the uneven development and the differential, often disadvantages, histories of nations, races, communities, peoples.33

The idea of “unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation” do not necessarily apply in this situation; Abu Dhabi is not an underdeveloped country that needs “civilizing,” as perhaps has been argued for countries looking to spread their influence in the past. France is not forcing the Louvre and its collection of Western art on this Gulf city. Rather, it was per the request of the government of Abu Dhabi that the Louvre take part in the cultural development of its nation. Bassem Terkawi, the director for tourism development and investment in Abu Dhabi, explained that the “direction is to position Abu Dhabi as the cultural capital of the region. We're trying to bring world-class cultural facilities that are not available in this part of the world.”34 Indeed, the Louvre will be joined by the likes of the Guggenheim, the Yale Art School, and other significant international cultural institutions and schools. A New York Times article published 10 February 2008 detailed the increasing trend of American universities establishing full branches of their campuses in the Arabian Gulf. The director of one of these programs in Abu Dhabi expressed what is evidently a widespread opinion of growth in the UAE. “We’re very eager to have a presence here…In the gulf, it’s not what’s here now, it’s what’s coming. Everybody’s on the way.”35

The reason for this development, according to Reem Al-Hashimy, the United Arab Emirates representative in the U.S., follows that “[The UAE does not] have the know-how when it comes to putting together an arts institution, for example…So we know our deficiencies, and we look for the best and try to learn from them.”36 This approach taken by the United Arab Emirates is clearly far removed from the colonization of the past – one country/culture dominating another, usually by force. Pertaining to this traditional approach toward colonization, the French annexation of Morocco is an applicable case in point. Hamid Irbouh situates us: “Beginning in the nineteenth century, France, Spain and Germany had all shown a keen interest in colonising [sic] Morocco because of its strategic position, rich resources, and potential trade.”37 He goes on to explain how, in 1907, France took control of Morocco by force (or the majority of it; a smaller portion was seized by Spain), appropriating control of almost every aspect of the Moroccans’ lives: finances, agriculture, military and police, education, urban planning, health, the fine arts, and the postal service. The only things left to Moroccan direction were charities, the judicial system, and religious education.38 Countless cases of colonization such as this have happened throughout history, with the majority of these initiated by comparatively powerful western countries. However, the Louvre-Abu Dhabi project is in effect a new story of colonization, one where the exchange of money and culture replaces the force of culture over culture.

An idea that runs alongside this “chosen” colonization is the possibility of a sort of power struggle between these two countries, with each of the participant’s major asset – France’s culture, Abu Dhabi’s money – being pulled back and forth in a political and culturally ethical tug-of-war. Michel Foucault’s discussion of power and knowledge provides a foundation for this idea. Foucault offers a strong argument for the close connection between knowledge and power. One might assume this could be a dangerous relationship – the way knowledge is used to wield power and vice-versa – but the philosopher maintains that they must go hand-in-hand.

Behind all knowledge (savoir), behind all attainment of knowledge (connaissance), what is involved is a struggle for power. Political power is not absent from knowledge, it is woven together with it….[T]he political and economic conditions of existence are not a veil or an obstacle for the subject of knowledge but the means by which subjects of knowledge are formed.39

Let us return briefly to the use of power and knowledge in the nineteenth-century French museum network to explain the current positioning of the two elements between Abu Dhabi and the Louvre. Within the early museum network, power was created and upheld through the offer of knowledge (represented by culture), situating those who were able to support culture in the most powerful positions. Interestingly, the current circumstances see Abu Dhabi doing the same exact thing, thanks to their substantial financial authority. Abu Dhabi has recognized the power contained in cultural knowledge; for this emirate thinking about a future beyond oil revenue, such power revolves not only around the reputation of the Louvre as a cultural authority, but also around the tourism generated by the Louvre and the attention that would naturally arrive with a satellite of the Louvre. Not only is the emirate acquiring knowledge through the use of their financial power, but it is also establishing itself as a veritable superpower of knowledge.

The opinion given by Anna Somers Cocks, the editorial director of the Art Newspaper, is not unlike that of Foucault in expressing the inextricable link between knowledge and power. At the same time, she presents a potential benefit of the situation between the Louvre and Abu Dhabi. “When Abu Dhabi and Qatar and Dubai start to want museums and libraries to collaborate with our universities, this is our opportunity to exercise soft power…to make ourselves known, to enlarge the areas of common dialogue.”40 The author emphasizes that the desire of Abu Dhabi to possess Western culture adds to the esteem of those institutions with which it is cooperating, and helps develop a broadened arena for international discourse. Taken at its most basic level – that of renowned institutions aiding a country in developing its cultural identity – the agreement between the Louvre and Abu Dhabi could be considered a very welcome handshake between the West and the Middle East.

However, while Cocks’s viewpoint is helpful in seeing the positive aspects of this venture, it does not account for the more difficult issues that surround the Louvre satellite project. Abu Dhabi is fashioning a cultural identity in the likeness of Western examples, encouraging a globalization of culture that, at least in the case of the Louvre, will lead to the loss of the Louvre’s unique identity. This is troublesome precisely because the Louvre is not like the Guggenheim, the poster child for globalization; the French institution has never intended to create a physical global presence41 around the world as the Guggenheim or even the Hermitage have.

To support this argument, I offer a comparison between the statements of purpose for the Louvre and the Guggenheim. The mission statement of the Guggenheim includes the aim to “engage and educate an increasingly diverse international audience through its unique network of museums and cultural partnerships.”42 Additionally, the Guggenheim Collection has almost always been an active model for international development. Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting modern art in 1929, creating the Guggenheim Foundation in 1937 and receiving permission from the state of New York to “operate one or more museums.”43 In 1938, daughter Peggy Guggenheim established an exhibition space in London called Guggenheim Jeune.44 While the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg may be more like the Louvre in that it too owns a history integral to the story of Russia, financial difficulties plaguing the institution have caused the need to create branches around the globe. In an interview, director Mikhail Poitrovsky admits,

Frankly, our financial situation after the end of communism was difficult, we experienced a huge drop of subsidy. Only in the last years we managed to secure the same level of state subsidy we once had. Branching out is one of our efforts to get money and make us more independent from government subsidy.45

Anything close to a mention of international expansion on the Louvre’s website merely states, “The museum of the Louvre…calls upon itself to welcome in the best way possible its visitors, both national and foreign, and increasingly strives to offer them closer access to the collections.”46 Taking this comparison into consideration, as well as both the fame of the Guggenheim and the renown of the architects of the cultural centers that will be built on Saadiyat – the Louvre by Jean Nouvel, the Guggenheim by Frank Gehry, a maritime museum by Tadao Ando and a performing arts center by Zaha Hadid – it becomes evident that the emirate is simply paying for prepackaged reputations. Abu Dhabi has proven several times over, through these costly arrangements with renowned artistic and academic institutions, that it is able to buy its cultural authority,47 proving that even though it may not have a deep-rooted Westernized culture the way Europe does (for now), it can certainly resolve this by wielding its weighty purchasing power.

Even after explanations have been offered for the possible motivations behind the agreement between Abu Dhabi and the Louvre, questions linger. Where does the venerable French institution go from here? Will it turn into a corporate chain similar to the Guggenheim? This is a legitimate worry, as arts journalist Alan Riding noted at the first announcement of the project: “So, in one fell swoop, France has changed direction and is heading down a path it once disdained, a path pioneered in the 1990s by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York….”48 I would say that despite the Louvre’s engagement with Abu Dhabi, I do not think the Guggenheim’s type of structural globalization is in the Louvre’s future. First, as its history exemplifies, the Louvre was not originally intended to someday include several branches across the globe; the network of museums that stemmed from the Louvre during the Napoleonic era were meant to glorify France to the rest of Europe – all the while firmly retaining France’s cultural treasures (native or otherwise procured) within the nation’s borders.

While I acknowledge that a museum must be flexible and adapt to fulfill the needs and transformations of its society, such adaptation should not come at the sacrifice of the museum’s inherent identity and history. Because the world is growing increasingly global and commercial does not mean that the museum, as keeper of a society’s culture and identity, should naturally follow suit. I also do not see the Louvre following the examples of the Guggenheim or the Hermitage because the Louvre does not necessitate a global presence around the world. Unfortunately, the siren song of money is worth more to an institution based in knowledge, such as the museum, than one would like to admit, and French critics are clear in their anger toward their government’s heed to this call. While the Guggenheim has made a business of selling branches of its museum and the Hermitage has had to extend its reach due to financial difficulties, the Louvre seems to have survived quite well financially prior to the final sum it will receive from Abu Dhabi. To see more branches of the Louvre rise around the world would be a disappointing reality; this cultural oasis currently being built in the Abu Dhabian desert is hopefully the first and the last.


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1.) Cited in Sylvain Laveissière, Napoléon et le Louvre (Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2004), 14. “Vous avez crée un Muséum; rassemblez-y soigneusement tout ce que la République renferme déjà de chefs-d’oeuvre […] et que la terre entière s’empresse d’y venir déposer ses trésors, ses singularités, ses productions; et tous les titres de son histoire: qu’il soit les archives du globe.” Translation.

2.) Concerning these historical branches, I go into further detail on page six.

3.) Edward P Alexander, Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1979), 23.

4.) Carol Duncan, Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums (New York: Routledge, 1995).

5.) Andrew McClellan, Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics and the Origins of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth-Century Paris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 93.

6.) Ibid.

7.) Ibid., 99.

8.) Ibid., 95-96.

9.) Ibid., 96.

10.) McClellan, Inventing the Louvre, 116-17.

11.) Cecil Gould, The Trophy of Conquest: the Musée Napoleon and the Creation of the Louvre (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), 76.

12.) Ibid., 76.

13.) Brussels, Geneva, and Mainz were under French rule at the time.

14.) Gould, The Trophy of Conquest, 76.

15.) Gould, The Trophy of Conquest, 44.

16.) “Laocoön,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008, Encyclopedia Britannica Online,, accessed 10 March 2008. 

17.) “January 14, 2006: 500th Anniversary of the Finding of the Laocoon on the Esquiline Hill in Rome,”, accessed 8 March 2008.

18.) Ibid.

19.) The sculpture was taken from Italy around 1796 and was returned to Rome sometime after 1815, when Napoleon’s loss to the Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 provoked the restitution of many of the works he had taken during his conquest of Europe. See Gould, The Trophy of Conquest, 116-117.

20.) Sherman explains that this chaotic early development of museums was due to the envoi system, in which the government bought paintings from the yearly Paris Salons and shipped them out to the provinces. He goes into further detail about the problems that arose from this arrangement. See pgs 132-133.

21.) Daniel Sherman, “The Bourgeoisie, Cultural Appropriation and the Art Museum in Nineteenth-Century France,” in The Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture Reader, ed. Vanessa R. Schwartz and Jeannene M. Przyblyski, (New York: Routledge, 2004), 134.

22.) Ibid., 134.

23.) Ibid., 137, 141.

24.) Ibid., 140.

25.), accessed 14 October 2007.

26.) Jonathan Fenby, “A new angle for a venerable Paris landmark; A glass pyramid for the Louvre,” The Christian Science Monitor, 24 October 1984, LexisNexis, Notre Dame. . 3 November 2007.

27.) Cachin, Françoise, Jean Clair and Roland Recht, “Les musées ne sont pas à vendre,” Le Monde, 13 December 2006, Europresse,, (accessed 23 May 2007).

28.) Follorou, Jacques. “Le contrat Abou Dhabi,” Le Monde, 11 January 2007, (accessed 4 February 2008).

29.) “Originally” being when the project was first proposed in 2005. See Follorou, Jacques.

30.) Follorou, “Le contrat Abou Dhabi,” Le Monde, 11 November 2007, (accessed 4 February 2008).

31.) Riding, Alan, “Abu Dhabi Is to Gain A Louvre Of Its Own,” The New York Times, 13 January 2007,, (accessed 4 December 2007).

32.) Cachin, Clair and Recht, “Les musées ne sont pas à vendre,” Le Monde, 13 December 2006, (accessed 23 May 2007).

33.) Homi K. Bhabha, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern: The Question of Agency,” in The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), 171.

34.) “Emirates Want Louvre Branch in Abu Dhabi,” Asharq Alawsat English Edition, 1 October 2007, (accessed 18 November 2007).

35.) Tamar Lewin, “U.S. Universities Rush to Set Up Outposts Abroad,” The New York Times, Education, 10 February 2008,, (accessed 10 February 2008).

36.) Rachel Boyd, “Arts institute plans intensify,” Yale Daily News, 13 Sept 2007., (accessed 4 December 2007).

37.) Hamid Irbouh, Art in the Service of Colonialism: French Art Education in Morocco, 1912-1956, (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2005), 3.

38.) Ibid., 4.

39.) Michel Foucault, Power, (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1994), 32 and 15.

40.) Cocks, Anna Somers, “The Louvre’s loans to Abu Dhabi are soft power in action,” The Art Newspaper, Issue 177. 2 August 2007,, (accessed 4 December 2007).

41.) The Louvre does have an agreement with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia, which precedes the Abu Dhabi project. In this arrangement, the Louvre provides three exhibitions per year to the High Museum for three years. While this presence of the Louvre abroad is significant, I do not consider it an attempt at establishing a physical presence around the globe, as in the examples of the Guggenheim and Hermitage networks.

42.) “Mission Statement,”, (accessed 23 February 2008).

43.) “History,”, (accessed 22 February 2008).

44.) “History,”, (accessed 22 February 2008).

45.) Klaus Müller, “The Concept of Universal Museums [Interview with Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia],” Curator v. 48, no. 1, (January 2005), Wilson Web,;hwwilsonid=TK1IAZF2L5YJRQA3DIKSFF4ADUNGIIV0, (accessed 1 February 2007).

46.) Loyrette, Henri, “Politique et Fonctionnement: Mot du president,” June 2005,, (accessed 23 February 2008). “Le musée du Louvre…se mobilisent afin d'accueillir de la façon la plus satisfaisante possible leurs visiteurs nationaux et étrangers, mais de plus en plus s'efforcent de leur offrir un accès de proximité aux collections.” Translation mine.

47.) Class discussion, “Theories of Art,” Professor Charles Barber, 27 November 2007.

48.) Alan Riding, “Abu Dhabi is to Gain A Louvre Of Its Own,” The New York Times, 13 January 2007, (accessed 12 February 2007).

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