Emma Cantwell, Director of Marketing and Communications at Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photography © Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
1.What is your museum about and what is your work there?
Louvre Abu Dhabi tells the history of human creativity, from prehistory to the present day. Our galleries are not separated by geography but set in chronological order, bringing different cultures together to shine fresh light on these common stories of humanity, beyond individual civilisations, times or places.
Part of the museum’s mission in showcasing its collection is that any visitor, no matter where they are from in the world, can find something that relates to them. The museum presents cultural and religious masterpieces, originating from different societies as well as different points in history. My role is overseeing the Marketing and Communications of the museum, including managing the brand with the Louvre.
2.How is your museum dealing with the coronavirus crisis?
We are furthering our commitment to being a mindful museum, a safe place for our communities to find comfort, empathy, and understanding in these difficult times. We are also turning to our local communities, to try to understand better how to engage them. For example we are at the beginning of launching our ‘art and wellbeing’ programme which will include talks, the launch of yoga under our dome by the sea and in future art therapy programmes.
The museum closed for 100 days before reopening to our communities. In that time we were able to expedite our digital presence in a way that would probably not have happened otherwise, launching many new projects – films with rich storytelling about our architecture and collection, virtual ‘summer’ camps for families during school holidays, launching richer materials showcasing our collection and more.
3.What is the impact on your digital activity? Do you have tips to share with your colleagues?
As mentioned, we have been developing our digital offering, providing further engagement with key domestic audiences unable to visit the museum, but also using our digital platforms to widen our reach internationally.
New digital features that bring the museum to life include our sci-fi “We are not alone” podcast by Soundwalk Collective inspired by the museum’s architecture, Anghami’s curated playlists of soundtracks inspired by the museum’s collection, virtual tours of our exhibition, the launch of highlights from the museum’s online collection, as well as activities for children and families.
4.Are you preparing yourself for the reopening or you are already opened? Tell us in what way.
Louvre Abu Dhabi reopened to the public on June 24 after a 100-day closure. It really was a new museum we opened – strict social distancing and safety precautions (masks at all times), timed tickets to manage visitor flow throughout the museum, closure of several spaces (for example our Children’s Museum due to the tactile nature of the display) and the removal of printed materials (such as maps) and our multi-media guides.
We also announced in July our new partnership with VPS Healthcare, an integrated healthcare service provider headquartered in Abu Dhabi, to offer a comprehensive plan to provide covid-19 precautionary measures and further ensure the safety of the museum’s staff and visitors.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Australian born, Emma Cantwell has a Bachelor’s degree of Communications from Charles Sturt University Bathurst and a Diploma of Education, Secondary Teaching from the University of New England.
She has 17 years of experience working in Marketing and Communications in the United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Australia. She leads the Marketing and Communications team of Louvre Abu Dhabi after joining in 2015 and opening the museum in November 2017.
Prior to this she spent five years working on a number of Abu Dhabi’s cultural projects alongside Louvre Abu Dhabi, including Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, primarily focused on opening strategy and pre-opening programming. She also promoted the exhibition centre Manarat Al Saadiyat and its world-class programmes including six editions of the art fair Abu Dhabi Art.