New galleries at the Louvre, designed by Mario Bellini and Rudy Rcciotti, provide a permanent home for the museum’s collection of Islamic art. Over 2,500 objects, many of which have never been on public display before, will occupy a surface of nearly 3,000 square metres. The opening – on September 22nd – marks a key moment in the history of the museum and is the first major architectural intervention since IM Pei’s glass Pyramid in 1989.
Set in the courtyard of the Cour Visconti, the galleries comprise a contemporary glass pavilion on two levels, covered by a seemingly floating golden, iridescent steel roof. The gallery at courtyard level will house works from the seventh to the tenth centuries while the second, in the basement – the ‘new’ ground floor – will exhibit works from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries along with a collection of carpets.
The architects aimed to achieve a ‘gentle and non-violent integration’ of a contemporary structure within a historical place. The ‘Golden Cloud’ roof, comprising a woven steel veil over an undulating layer of glass, allows views of the courtyard facades from inside the galleries.
The interior design, conceived by architect and museographer Renaud Piérard, will enable visitors to contextualize the works on display, and situate them historically and geographically.
The new galleries are surrounded by a redesigned exhibition space dedicated to ‘the East Mediterranean in the Roman Empire’ that presents galleries of Late Antiquity from the eastern Mediterranean, including works from Roman and Coptic Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine.