The Louvre’s New Islamic Galleries Bring Riches to Light
New York Times | Carol Vogel | 9.19.12
Ten years in the making, the $125 million project, which opens on Saturday, has been financed in part by the French government, along with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who gave the Louvre $20 million toward the galleries, the largest single monetary gift ever given to the museum. Corporations have kicked in money too, including Total, the oil company, and the governments of countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco, Kuwait and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
On a recent cloudless afternoon, as teams of workers were putting the finishing touches on the project, a visitor was allowed to enter the heavily guarded Visconti Courtyard, where the golden roof billows up from waist level at the edges to about 22 feet close to the center. At first glance it looks gauzy enough to blow away in a heavy wind, but according to members of the architectural team who were working at the site, it weighs 150 tons and has been painstakingly fashioned from almost 9,000 steel tubes that form an interior web, over which are a layer of glass and, on top of that, a shimmering anodized gold surface.