The long-awaited Islamic Arts Gallery of the Mussee De Luvre is scheduled to open on Saturday in Paris, France, with costs of around 180 million UAE dirhams ($50 million), UAE’s The National reported on Thursday.
The two-floor area of the gallery contains around 15,000 original pieces from museum’s own collection and 3,400 artifacts on permanent loan from the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, thanks to the combined efforts of the Saudi billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal and Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman.
The gallery will start in a chronological manner with pieces dating back to 100 years after the death of Prophet Mohammed to the mid-19th century with a map detailing the creation and development of every Muslim empire. If one is to indulge further, along the way are segues to Spain, China, and Indian escapades in relation to the Muslim arts.
The Louvre’s Islamic Gallery is believed to hold one of the most extensive Islamic arts collections in the world and some of the pieces are still unknown to the public eyes, The National reported.
Amongst these is the 12th-century copper candlestick, unbelievably molded from a single block of copper, from Khorasan, Iran. It was designed to show off layers and rows of cats and ducks arising from the surface. There are also 7th-century ceramics dating back nearly to the same time the Prophet was alive. Another is an ivory casket, believed to be handed over as a gift to one of the last Ummayad rulers of Muslim Spain.
According to Sophie Makariou, head of the Department des Arts de l’Islam, Muslim historian Ibn Khaldoun was their guide in completing the gallery. She added that the gallery depicts a chartable process of rise and fall of the great Muslim empires. It is a narrative that counters the widely held misconception of a single, monolithic Islamic civilization and presents instead the threads of influence that connect a vast geographic area and seep beyond its indistinct borders.
“The Louvre was created as an encyclopedic museum and a big chapter lacking in that was Islamic art,” said Henri Loyrette, the president-director of the institution, was quoted by The National as saying. “You can’t understand parts of our entire collection without engaging with Islamic art.”
One of the many highlights of the Islamic Arts department of the Paris museum is the somewhat-yellow wavy roof of the galleries described by the architects behind it, Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, as a Bedouin tent, a dragonfly’s wing, even a “golden cloud.” This roof is a new side dish to the whole physical aspect of the famous Mussee de Louvre.
“The shape,” Ricciotti said, as reported by The National, “is just a friendly handshake from The Republic towards Islamic art.”
“For many visitors to the Louvre, Islamic means Muslim and is entirely a religious phenomenon without anything about art and its relationship to the western world,” Loyrette said.
Offering this collection to the public world will give a sense of both religious and cultural recognition to the Muslim world to what it has become today, The National reported.
But the goals of the Louvre do not stop confined with the famous Paris museum. Rumored to open in 2015 is the Louvre Abu Dhabi that will house about 60 works from the Paris Islamic Arts department. This project is a part of the mission to be able to allow other parts of the world beyond France to reach and understand more the culture of the Muslim world.
(The galleries that will open on Saturday can be viewed online at www.louvre.fr)