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28.9.12

An Inspired New Home for Islamic Treasures

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It's the largest expansion project since I. M. Pei designed the pyramid in front of the Louvre some twenty years ago. The Cour Visconti, a lavish interior courtyard at the Louvre, has been transformed into the new Department of Islamic Art, complete with an undulating, golden mesh roof -- referred to as a “dragonfly wing” by architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti.

The new wing is home to more than 3,000 works from throughout the Islamic world. The collection ranges from the seventh to the nineteenth centuries, from the founding of Baghdad in 762, through the rein of Gangis Kahn, and to the Sufi mystics.

Islam's history and tradition is complex and incredibly diverse, more than I ever realized. With some 8.8 million visitors a year, apparently many of them there during my visit, the Louvre, the most popular tourist attraction in Paris, is about to become a leading institution for Islamic study in Europe. It's a timely gift in a turbulent period and quite impressive. More images on my Flickr.


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