Louvre’s Islamic art building is ready to fly

The Los Angeles Times – September 1, 2012

 

The Louvre’s new wing for the department of Islamic art undulates like molten gold. For the museum’s enlarged, 18,000-piece treasure trove of Islamic art, opening Sept. 22, architects Mario Bellini from Italy and Rudy Ricciotti from France used the latest in computer technology to create what is the most significant, innovative architectural expansion project to the museum since I.M. Pei shook up the institution with his glass pyramid in 1989. The building is a much more intimate addition, tucked into the folds of the sprawling monument (822 years old in some parts) and is not clearly visible from the street.

With its new structure and its expanded and restored collection, from which more than 2,500 works will be displayed, the museum says it hopes to “seduce” visitors into learning more about Islamic arts. In the process, the institution has stated a rather more ambitious goal for the $98.5-million-euro project ($123.8 million): to correct common “misconceptions” associated with the Islamic world and “bridge” cultural gaps that can lead to conflict.

The new wing will unveil never-before-shown precious works from the 7th to the 19th centuries, stretching from Spain to India, including pieces drawn from the Louvre’s collection of some 15,000 pieces, plus 3,400 other works on permanent loan from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Funders include Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation; King Mohammed VI of Morocco; Sheikh Sabah al Ahmed al Jabbar al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait; Kaboos ibn Said, sultan of Oman; and the republic of Azerbaijan.