The Department
of Islamic Arts
at the Louvre

With an architectural design of the utmost daring, the celebrated Cour Visconti, hitherto closed to the public, has been graced with a seemingly weightless roof and now provides ample exhibition spaces devoted to the Islamic arts.

Designed by architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini, the new department is housed beneath an undulating glass roof, some 48 m by 32 m. Mario Bellini has likened it to a diaphanous dragonfly’s wing, while others see it as a golden cloud, a magical flying carpet or Bedouin tent, inspired no doubt by the objects evocative of Arabian nights housed within. Once inside, any visitor who has experienced the particularly loud and echoing atmosphere of the adjacent pyramid designed by Ieoh Ming Pei (1983), could be forgiven for fearing the worst. What an unexpected joy, then, to discover the new wing’s hushed acoustics, the perfect setting for an exploration of one of the world’s foremost collections of Islamic art. A veritable treasure trove comprising over 3,000 artworks, from ceramics to glasswork, pieces in gold, silver and ivory, architectural fragments, carpets, miniatures etc. The exhibition is dense and covers some 2,800 m², bearing ample witness to the abundant depth and breadth of the Louvre’s collection and documenting the culture of the Islamic world in its full geographic scope, from Spain to India. Works dating from the 7th to the 11th centuries are exhibited at courtyard level, while the basement galleries (referred to as the parterre) house works from the 11th to the end of the 18th century, including a prestigious collection of carpets. At courtyard level, natural light floods in through the glazed ceiling, its multi-layered skin serving to temper the sun’s intensity. In the parterre galleries, the play of light and shade creates a more intimate atmosphere, a place of silent contemplation and untold mystery. The ceilings and communicating spaces between each level are entirely clad in our discreet and efficient acoustic textile, in tones of elegant grey.
2,500 m² of Vibrasto 03 by Texaa® were stretched and anchored into position, thereby resolving two problems at once—the level of acoustic comfort offered to visitors and the technical constraints specific to the ceiling areas.

Project name: Département des arts de l’Islam au musée du Louvre

Year to be delivered: 2013

Town-city / Country: Paris, France

Architect: Rudy Ricciotti et Mario Bellini

Acoustician: Gérard Le Goff

Photographer: Philippe Ruault, presse-papier

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