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Exhibition 30 Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

from April 30, 2005 to April 24, 2006

An extraordinary selection of works from the Metropolitan Museum's famed collection of Islamic art will be exhibited for a full year at the Musée du Louvre, in the galleries of the Department of Islamic Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has the American continent's finest collection of Islamic art. With over 10,000 items, the collection has been a curatorial department since 1963. The current displays, created in the 1970s, extend to over 4,000 square meters of exhibition space.

The Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York closed to the public for a major re-fit in December 2003. During the renovation work, a number of works from the Department have been displayed on the mezzanine level above the Met's imposing entrance foyer. Others are being displayed alongside the museum's collections of Asian and Western medieval art.

The Louvre's first gallery, dedicated to works from the excavations at Susa (south-west Iran), will host a selection of objects from the archaeological site at Nishapur in eastern Iran, which was overseen by the Met in the late 1930s and 1940s. Nishapur produced a wealth of finds (decorative architectural sculpture, ceramics, bronze, glass...), testifying to its close links with the rest of the Islamic world, including Susa, from the 9th to the 11th centuries. Remarkable works from the Met's collection are displayed throughout the Louvre's other galleries of Islamic art. Highlights include a rare dish decorated with an eagle, signed by the leading Islamic ceramicist of his day (Egypt 10th-11th century), lustrous tiles from the Nasrid kingdom around Granada (Spain, 14th century), an example of medieval Iranian pottery demonstrating close links with the arts of calligraphy, book-binding etc., and items of metalwork, inlaid objects (an Iranian ewer, 12th century; a perfume-burner, Egypt, 14th century; an ink bottle, Iran, 15th century), together with elements of architectural decoration (Iran, 1455; India, late 16th century).

The most spectacular piece in the collection is without doubt the large glass bowl with enamel and gold decorations, from a 13th-century Syrian workshop. The piece is a magnificent example of the technique of polychrome and gold enameling on glass, developed in the eastern Islamic world during the late 12th century. The work is displayed alongside one of the masterpiece's of the Louvre's collection: the large metal vase made for an Egyptian sultan in the mid-13th century, and latterly from the collection of the Barberini Pope Urban VIII. The items come from throughout the Islamic world, from Spain to India, and cover a period ranging from the earliest years of the Islamic era to the height of the latterday empires.

Organized by: Sophie Makariou, Musée du Louvre

Practical information

Opening hours

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Tuesdays.
Open until 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.


Richelieu wing

Admission fees

Free admission with purchase of a ticket to the permanent collections.