So they built Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. The only thing we seem to be building in Bahrain, is shopping malls and more shopping malls. Although our new venture, The Avenues, is more for eating than shopping, the fact remains, that these two are evidently the most favourite pastimes here. Unless we count Friday brunch at Bushido, which involves another favourite activity. In vast quantities.
For someone who comes from culture-filled Europe this is rather a grim prospect. So one weekend we jumped on the aeroplane and set off to see Louvre Abu Dhabi. Admittedly it is nothing like the original museum in Paris, but indeed this originality and makes it so attractive and unique. The brilliant architectural solution by Jean Nouvel, is very modern and absolutely perfect for the hot sunny climate. Lacy roof ornaments covering the vast dome cast a cool shadow offering plenty of breezy outside space to stroll, sit, or just simply wander around from one exhibition to another.
Permanent exhibition is full of treasures gathered from all over the world stretching through centuries of our civilisation. I was told that they could only acquire one example of each artist, period or genre. But it is enough to give viewers a full picture of how both decorative and applied-art developed through the centuries. How various cultures, countries and regions differed from each other in their perceptions of beauty and aesthetics. One display in particular touched me to the bottom of my heart. In the proud place stood a glass cabinet exhibiting, side by side, an early sixteenth century Christian Madonna and thirteenth century Muslim Koran. How well we can coexist next to one another when we look at each other with open minds and open hearts. A very moving message indeed!
So they built Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. The only thing we seem to be building in Bahrain, is shopping malls and more shopping malls.
Another thing I found absolutely fascinating, was how packed the whole place was. Locals and tourists, families and couples, solo wanderers and groups. Some strolling on their own, some with a museum guide. Parents explaining their fidgety offspring about this painting and that sculpture. Or taking their youngsters to the specially built Children’s museum, which offers more family focused exhibitions and numerous interactive workshops. And if they might seem not to be paying much attention, I know from my own childhood experience, it all sinks in eventually, laying a strong foundation for understanding and appreciation of art and for the general savoir-faire.
So it left me wondering, don’t we want that for the kids growing up in Bahrain. Why authorities, educational institutions and even private initiative are not striving to bring more culture and enlightenment, both for children and adults, into our sunny island. Or shall we remain forever meandering in the maze of chain restaurants. I, personally, would much rather choose a nice cappuccino in the museum cafe over a soulless Starbucks concoction without any hesitation!
Aisté is a Socialite, Writer, Language Tutor and Advisor for International School of Etiquette, living in Bahrain and London. To share your feedback, email: aiste.anusaite@ gmail.com