France's world-famous Louvre Museum is readying to receive its groundbreaking Islamic section that will showcase the world's most comprehensive Islamic art collection and reflect the European country's inclusion of its sizable Muslim minority.
"Islamic exhibitions have always been a huge success with the public," Sophie Makariou, head curator of the Louvre's Islamic art department, told the Guardian on Thursday, July 17.
The first stone of the Louvre's new Arts of Islam gallery was laid Wednesday in a ceremony attended by President Nicolas Sarkozy and the major donor for the project, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.
Due to open in 2010, the $135m wing will display Islamic art masterpieces from the seventh to the 19th century and from across three continents.
The Islamic art section will also reflect France's inclusion of its sizable Muslim population.
"It is important for France… to create something that speaks directly to the presence of Muslims in this country," the project's architect, Rudy Ricciotti, told the Guardian.
France is home to nearly seven million Muslims, the biggest Muslim minority in Europe.
Most French Muslims have Moroccan and Algerian roots.
One of the groundbreaking pieces to be showcased is a shimmering glass wave hanging over the wing's courtyard.
The piece, known as the Veil, is described by its architects as a giant glass Muslim headscarf "blown in by the wind" at the heart of Paris.
Ricciotti believes the Louvre's bold Islamic art section will make a political statement through cultural means.
"This is a political museum in the noble sense of the term, in that the secular republic recognizes all its people."
Source: Islam Online (English)