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The New Department
of Islamic Art

The Department of Islamic Art is the newest department in the Musée du Louvre. Created in 2003, its refurbishment has been underway since 2008. From September 2012 it is due to reopen in a completely new, restyled setting, which will provide its collections with a space befitting their prominence within the museum.
Before its inauguration, we invite you to take a look behind the scenes of this incredible project.

The Cour Visconti provides the setting that will play host to Islamic Art. Architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini rose to the challenge of covering the courtyard with an undulating glass roof. The galleries thereby created do not detract from the historical façades, while providing 2,800 square meters (over 30,000 square feet) of exhibition space, bathed in discreet natural lighting.

A Daring Architectural Plan - Henri Loyrette

During the first press visit to the site of the future Islamic Art galleries in January 2012, Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Musée du Louvre, explained his architectural choice.

A Pocket Handkerchief - Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti

During the press visit to the site, architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti recalled the real challenge of constructing the building in a plot the size of a "pocket handkerchief."

Laying the Foundations

The creation of a sub-ground-level space in the Cour Visconti required the courtyard to be excavated to a depth of 12 meters (about 40 feet).  This was one of the biggest challenges in Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini’s architectural project. The new spaces of the Department of Islamic Art are securely lodged in the old Cour Visconti of the Musée du Louvre.

8,000 Tubes, 8 Columns

Beneath a gilded metal casing, the Cour Visconti roofing structure consists of a free-form lattice of steel tubes and glass. Its execution was another of the project’s architectural challenges.

First Display Case

Museographer Renaud Piérard presents the display cases custom-made for this new department. For him it is an opportunity to share his emotion and to discuss the exhibition space concept he designed alongside Mario Bellini.

Practical information

The new galleries of the Department of Islamic Art will open to the public in September 2012.

For more information:

Department of Islamic Art
Press contact

Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France

+ 33 (0)1 40 20 53 17

Online shop

Islamic art at the Musee du Louvre

39 €



Images taken between April 2005 and January 2012, audiovisual archive footage on the creation of the Department of Islamic Art.

Images: Richard Copans, Valéry Gaillard, Antoine Parouty, and Renaud Personnaz

Direction and editing: Patrick Ladoucette

Music: Frédéric Perol

English translation: Susan Schneider

Translation coordination: Anne-Myrtille Renoux

© Musée du Louvre 2012