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The newest wing of the Louvre, the Department of Islamic Art, has just opened.
One of the most popular museums in the world, the Louvre has a long history of collecting art from the Islamic world, from putting on the first exhibition in Paris dedicated to Islamic art in 1893 to creating a dedicated Islamic art department in 2003. Now this vast collection of more than 3,000 works – many of which are on display for the first time at the Louvre— has its own new wing, opened on 22 September 2012.
The new wing is located in the museum’s Cour Visconti courtyard, nestled between the 18th-century walls of the grand palace. Architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti have created a thoroughly modern structure with a golden-toned, undulating glass and metal roof that resembles a veil being lifted by the wind.
Although this may seem strikingly modern for such a historic institution, the Louvre is no stranger to contemporary architecture, having kept up with the newest and most impressive styles throughout its 1,000 years of history – most recently in 1989 with IM Pei’s iconic glass pyramid, located at the entrance of the museum.
Spread over the two floors of this new building are works from the 7th to 18th Centuries that span the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. The visitor is taken on a historical and geographical journey through the Islamic world via artefacts, mosaics and sculptures -- guided by information panels and multimedia installations. The space has enough room to display a magnificent collection of more than 200 carpets, as well architectural exhibits such as the restored Mamluk Porch – an Egyptian porch from the 15th Century – and impressive Ottoman ceramics, which make up a 12m-long wall of tiles dating from the 16th to the 19th Centuries.
The new wing, along with the rest of the Louvre, is open every day except Tuesday, from 9 am to 6 pm, with late night opening on Wednesday and Friday until 9:45 pm. To avoid queues, buy your ticket online in advance.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.