Last month, Paris's Louvre museum opened its new Islamic Art Wing amidst uproar over the series of controversial Mohammed cartoons that were published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to the tune of $125 million.

And just last year, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opened its Islamic art galleries, which had been closed for renovations for eight years. The Met's revamped galleries, called the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, cost about $40 million.

The fact that two of the world's greatest cultural institutions have invested heavily in their Islamic art collections within the last year is worth taking note. So why are these major museums devoting so much space and money to Islamic art?

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