A painting of a man studing a book.

Museum arabesque
A French universal museum in the Arab world

by Stephen Foster

Unsurprisingly, Louvre Abu Dhabi has provoked much controversy, especially in France, where an online petition declared ‘Museums are not for sale’. While many anxieties relate specifically to French cultural sensitivities, the new museum raises issues of broader interest relating to the economic value of museums and collections, museums as instruments of cultural diplomacy, the role of architects, museums and globalisation, and much more. In particular, it offers an opportunity to reflect on the concept of ‘the universal museum’.