NEW YORK - The reopening of a suite of 15 dramatic new galleries for the art of the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and later South Asia at New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art added a new flavour to the art scene of the US that will ultimately lead to better understanding of Islamic art and culture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a world renowned cultural institution and collection in the United States. The Museums two-million-square-foot building houses over two million objects, tens of thousands of which are on view at any given time. The museum recently completed a $50 million renovation of its galleries presenting Islamic art, a project which took eight years and involved countless curatorial and cultural experts, scholars and craftsmen from the regions represented in the collection. The new 19,000-square-foot galleries that were closed for renovation in May 2003 now house the collection of the Museums Department of Islamic Art, more than 12,000 works of art acquired through gifts and purchased over the entire span of the Museums 140-year history. The collection comprises more than 12,000 works of art drawn from an area that extends from Spain in the west to India in the east. Some 1,200 works of art in all media are on view at any time, representing all major regions and artistic styles, from the seventh century onward. The Museums remarkable collection includes manuscripts, fragile glass objects and rare and precious carpets and paintings. Highlights of the Museums collection include: the sumptuously ornamented Damascus Room, built in 1707, and one of the finest examples of Syrian homes of the wealthy during the Ottoman period; glass, metalwork, and ceramics from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Nishapur Excavations are also one of the main attractions at the museum that were found in northeastern Iran around the third century A.D. The galleries present a selection of the objects found during the Museums excavations. Acting Under Secretary for Public Affairs Ann Stock termed it once-in-a-generation event in history of Islamic art that mark a new era in the Metropolitan museums global reach. She said 271 embassies and consulates, 25 of them in the Arab world, will display posters of exhibit highlights in their public spaces and online. The 14.5 million visitors to U.S consular and social spaces every year will see video tours of the galleries and interviews with the curators and conservators. She opined that the museum has become one of the finest places in the world to learn about Islamic art and its history spanning over hundreds of years that will give the opportunity to the world to know about Islamic world and help in bringing them closer. The opening of these extraordinary new galleries underscores our mission as an encyclopedic museum and provides a unique opportunity to convey the grandeur and complexity of Islamic art and culture at a pivotal moment in world history, stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum. In sequence, the 15 new galleries trace the course of Islamic civilisation over a span of 13 centuries, from the Middle East to North Africa, Europe, and Central and South Asia. This new geographic orientation signals a revised perspective on this important collection, recognising that the monumentality of Islam did not create a single, monolithic artistic expression, but instead connected a vast geographic expanse through centuries of change and cultural influence. Maryam Ekhtiar, Senior Research Associate of Department of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum, maintained that the thoughtfully selected collection and exquisite detailed work will enrich the visitors understanding and experience of Islamic Art and culture due to marvalous international effort of the museum.