The Louvre Museum is unveiling a new wing and galleries dedicated to the arts of Islam, culminating a nearly $130 million, decade-long project coming to fruition amid tensions between the Muslim world and the West.
The new dragonfly shaped building marks the famed Paris museum's greatest development since its iconic glass pyramid constructed 20 years ago. The Department of Islamic Art will exhibit much of the Louvre's 18,000 works, hoping also to foster cultural understanding.
Mosaics from the Damascus mosque and a 15th-century Mamluk porch are among works spanning from 632 to 1800 A.D.
Donors included Morocco's King Mohammed VI and Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal's foundation.
Louvre director Henri Loyrette says the galleries aim to showcase "the radiant face of a civilization."
The wing, with its mission of heightening cross-cultural understanding, is opening at a tense - and perhaps opportune - time.
France stepped up security this week at its embassies across the Muslim world after a French satirical weekly published lewd caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The publication raised concerns that France could face violent protests like the ones targeting the United States over an amateur video produced in California ridiculing the prophet that have left at least 30 people dead.