The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a fabrication, too. It isn’t an official Louvre franchise. For the equivalent of $1.15 billion, the museum has temporarily leased the Louvre brand. It can use the illustrious name for 30 years and borrow works from the Louvre and a dozen other French state institutions (the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque Nationale, etc.) for a decade. This will give the new museum time to assemble a permanent collection — the acquisition process is well underway — and create its own version of a global art history.
And what does that history, currently fleshed out with loans, look like? Item by item, pretty sensational. And how does it read as a narrative? The narrative is engagingly well paced, but — and this is true of every encyclopedic museum I’m familiar with — sugarcoated and incomplete.