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Louvre readies to open new Islamic wing

Matthew Warren · 5 Jan 2012, 13:32

Published: 05 Jan 2012 13:32 GMT+01:00

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With a roof designed to look like a floating sheet of silk, a reference to the Islamic headscarf, a 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 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. 

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


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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