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Louvre Officials Unveil New Islamic Art Wing, Confirm Summer Opening

Published: 06/01/2012 03:13:29 AM GMT
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06 January 2012 The Louvre unveiled a new architectural structure on Wednesday to house the museum's new Arts of Islam galleries - (more)

06 January 2012

The Louvre unveiled a new architectural structure on Wednesday to house the museum's new Arts of Islam galleries - hailed as the most important architectural feat since its glass pyramid.

With a roof designed to look like a floating sheet of silk, a reference to the Islamic headscarf, the new wing of the Louvre housing Islamic art is nearing completion.

The project to house the Paris museum's well regarded collection of Islamic objects was launched by former president Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Six years later his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, laid the first stone. After four years of construction, the wing is set to open in the summer.

On Wednesday, the Louvre's director, Henri Loyette, gave an update on the progress of the building, which is due to open in the summer.

He said the new addition to the museum would put on show "collections that have been largely neglected for 25 years."

The building's architect Mario Bellini, who has designed the structure with Rudy Ricciotti, told the BBC the structure should seem as if it is "floating in mid-air."

"The roof is only supported by eight very narrow tubes which are leaning and dancing together and which support the weight of the veil to the bottom of the foundations," he said.

The 3,500 square metre space, including two additional underground levels, is the museum's biggest project since the construction of the glass pyramid that sits in the Louvre's main courtyard twenty years ago.

The €98 million ($126 million) new wing will sit in one of the Louvre's hidden courtyards in the Denon wing of the gallery and can house around 18,000 works.

The roof's transparent composition allows light to pass through, revealing the museum's classical architecture just beyond.

In 2011, the Louvre attracted a record 8.8 million visits, with around two-thirds coming from outside France.

A Saudi Prince is the project's largest single benefactor, contributing 17 million euros in funding. Other sponsors include Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and the the Republic of Azerbaijan which lent 26 million euros, of the 98 million estimated total.

The Louvre museum still needs to raise 10 million euros to complete work on the project, but officials confirm that the wing will open this summer as scheduled.


"Louvre readies to open new Islamic wing" The Local - UAE January 5, 2012

"A Magic Carpet Rises Over the Louvre's New Islamic Arts Gallery " Art Info January 5, 2012

"The Louvre Unveils a New Architectural Structure for The New Arts of Islam Galleries" AlAlamiya News January 5, 2012

Reproduced with permission from Islam Today