We are familiar with I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid at the Louvre, the iconic glass and steel pyramid which creates a central focal point, and defines entry for the museum. This week, a second sculptural piece of contemporary architecture opens in celebration of the new Department of Islamic Arts. Fluid in form and offering an amazing light quality to the gallery space below, this new addition celebrating a rich history of art and artifact is a dynamic addition to the museum’s historic Cour Visconti courtyard.
‘The new Department of Islamic Arts is designed by Milanese architect Mario Bellini and his French colleague Rudy Ricciotti, who won the commission through an international competition in 2005. Similar to I.M. Pei, the pair created a naturally lit, subterranean gallery space beneath an undulating, glass roof within the courtyard of the historic Cour Visconti.” archdaily.com ”The golden roof billows up from waist level at the edges to about 22 feet close to the center. At first glance it looks gauzy enough to blow away in a heavy wind, but according to members of the architectural team who were working at the site, it weighs 150 tons and has been painstakingly fashioned from almost 9,000 steel tubes that form an interior web, over which are a layer of glass and, on top of that, a shimmering anodized gold surface.” nytimes
The new gallery houses many works of art which have not been on display for decades. Many famous and important pieces are on exhibit, part of a collection which reflects craftsmanship and history of the 7th through the 19th centuries. Arranged chronologically, the exhibit includes ‘glass works, ceramics, metalwork, books, manuscripts, textiles and carpets.’
I embrace the philosophy that the growth of the museum and the supporting contemporary architecture is as important a consideration as the treasures displayed within. These built structures, displays of art themselves, define human interaction with these exhibits, becoming an integral part of the visitor’s experience. I look forward to a Paris sojourn, to take in this magnificent cultural happening.