DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Art lovers will have to wait a bit longer to visit a much-anticipated Mideast outpost of the Louvre, which will be headed by a Frenchman involved in the project for years.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said Tuesday the branch in the United Arab Emirates capital won't host its first visitors until sometime in 2017.
It's the latest in a series of delays for the project, which was originally slated to open in 2012. It most recently was expected to be finished by year's end.
The tourism authority named Paris museums veteran Manuel Rabate as the museum's first director. The 40-year-old has worked at the original Louvre and served as CEO of Agence France-Museums, which is charged with carrying out France's commitments in developing the UAE museum, since 2013.
Designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the sky-lit, domed museum is the centerpiece of an ambitious waterfront cultural district that will also include a branch of the Guggenheim museum.
The district, known as Saadiyat Island, has for years been a focus of criticism over the treatment of thousands of low-paid migrant workers involved in its construction.
The Tourism Development and Investment Co., the project's government-backed developer, put in place policies designed to protect workers and monitor compliance at the site. Rights activists say the reforms were not enough to prevent exploitation and abuse. One worker died while working on the Louvre last year.
Curators have acquired 600 pieces of art so far, and plan to display them alongside 300 others on loan from French museums.
The collection includes works by French painters Paul Gauguin and Edouard Manet, as well as religious pieces, including a 6th-Century Chinese Buddha sculpture and a more than 500-year-old Torah from Yemen.
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