The Louvre is said to have a president for the first time in the 228-year history of the Paris museum.
Laurence des Cars, currently president of two other Parisian institutions, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, will take over as the French Ministry of Culture on September 1st – one of the most important in the art world said in a press release on Wednesday.
She will take over the museum with an annual budget of 240 million euros, more than 2,000 employees and a regional outpost in northern France at a difficult time. The pandemic disrupted international tourism. Before it came last year, the Louvre had around 10 million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum in the world.
According to the press release, their mission will attract more young people to the museum and focus more on international partnerships.
Des Cars, 54, is something of a Louvre insider who studied art history at the École du Louvre, the museum’s school. She oversaw the development of Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum in the United Arab Emirates that leases the Louvre brand and opened in 2017.
That year she was named director of the Musée d’Orsay, where she was recognized for exhibitions organized in collaboration with partners such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. The 2019 exhibition “Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse”, which focused on previously overlooked black figures in French art and was developed with the Wallach Art Gallery in New York, is considered a milestone in her tenure.
“A large museum has to face history, even if it looks back on the history of our own institutions,” she said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in April.
Des Cars is one of the few women who has run large French museums. This deficiency is “a result of official institutions failing to reach out to or trust women enough,” des Cars said in a 2018 interview with the New York Times. But there is also “the problem of self-censorship – by women who think, “I’m not up to this type of job,” she said.
“Women need to overcome their personal doubts and say to themselves, ‘I can do this. It comes at the right time in my life and in my career. I’m ready for it, ”added the car.
The Louvre belongs to the French state, so the French President appoints the head of the museum.
A few months ago it was assumed that Jean-Luc Martinez, President of the Louvre since 2013, would be promised a third term of three years. During his tenure, the Louvre first grew over 10 million visitors. The landmark Leonardo exhibition, which ended a few weeks before the nationwide lockdown of France last year, drew rave reviews and a record million visitors.
However, critics accused Martinez of discounting the museum’s brand by partnering with brands like Uniqlo, allowing a couple to spend a night at the museum as part of a marketing campaign for Airbnb, and renting the space to Beyoncé and Jay-Z to film the music video for their song “Apes ** t” (The Louvre also starred in the Netflix hit “Lupine,” one of the platform’s most watched series.)
In March, after a dispute over a new color scheme in one of the Louvre’s galleries became a week-long topic in the French news media, Henri Loyrette, a former president of the museum, threw his weight behind Martinez’s critics. He and another senior former Louvre official testified in a lawsuit filed by the Cy Twombly Foundation that the new paintwork defaced a ceiling painting by the abstract American painter.
Martinez will stay at the museum until August 31st, which reopened on May 19th after months of closure. He will then become the cultural heritage ambassador and be responsible for coordinating France’s participation in international projects, the press release said.
Des car did not immediately respond to a request for comment.