The Louvre announced Tuesday that its grand new galleries to house its collection of Islamic art would open Sept. 22, 11 months after the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Islamic galleries were opened, a chance concurrence that will make for a greatly expanded presence for Middle Eastern art in the West.
Jump-started in 2005 by the largest single monetary gift ever given to the Louvre – $20 million from Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia – the museum’s new galleries will occupy more than 32,000 square feet in a two-level glass-and-steel pavilion. The galleries, which the museum had initially hoped to open by 2009, represent the first major architectural intervention at the Louvre since the addition of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid in 1989.
The Islamic galleries will house 2,500 objects from the 7th to the 19th centuries, many of which have never before been on public display. The museum said that the galleries, designed by the architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, will draw not only from the Louvre’s own collection of some 15,000 pieces representing the breadth of the Islamic world from Spain to India, but also from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which will contribute 3,400 works on permanent loan.
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