The new wing dedicated to masterpieces of Islamic art is the result of a project as notable as the construction of Pei’s large pyramid. The area that houses the department is the underground part of the restored facades of the Cour Visconti courtyard near the Seine. Here they excavated 12 meters down to create a sort of “treasure chest” covered by a large iridescent veil of glass.
There are two levels of exhibition space. Visitors follow an uninterrupted path, with their rhythm dictated only by how long they stay in front of the various objects to meditate or rest, which was one of the objectives of the Exhibition design by Renaud Pierard.
Building project: Mario Bellini, Milan; Rudy Ricciotti, Paris
Exhibition design: Renaud Pierard, Paris
The interiors are dominated by dark colors – black flooring and dark gray stone furnishings. In this “non space,” the Goppion display cases, which are as light and transparent as soap bubbles, almost disappear so as to highlight the ultra-colorful objects inside of them and to enhance the feel of the architecture, be it historic or modern.
Goppion’s display cases combine robustness, a firm seal and absolute transparency. The thin base has the most advanced technologies for climate control and security. The octagonal or diagonal display cases can be “dismantled,” and they open completely like the wings of a bird in flight, allowing the curator to get inside and arrange the objects with ease. A double sliding mechanism allows each of the two “shells” that make up the display case to be shifted along with the internal part. Once closed, the display case looks quite like safes. Without the proper tools, one can’t open the case, even by forcing the lock.
The “glass case” models have a sophisticated pantograph feature, which is activated by a hydraulic device that lifts the entire bonnet to allow for full access to the inside. Wide glass surfaces allow for the relics to be viewed all the way around, and in the case of the diagonal display cases that can be “dismantled,” they are joined only at the top so as to not interfere with how the visitor sees the objects. True masterpieces of engineering design as applied to Exhibition design.