Louvre’s first female president in 228 years

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Ella Larina

Laurence des Cars has been appointed as President of the Louvre Museum, becoming the first female to be at the helm of the legendary museum.

At the head of the Louvre, Des Cars’ mission will be to reaffirm the universal vocation of the first museum in the world. In this perspective, it will make the dialogue between ancient art and the contemporary world one of its priorities, with the constant concern of transmission to the greatest number. It will place young people, particularly affected by the crisis, at the centre of settlement policy. It will also be keen to set up new forms of cooperation in the service of ambitious cultural programming, involving a large part in international partnerships.

Laurence des Cars has been appointed as President of the Louvre Museum

Des Cars, President of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, General Curator of Heritage, was previously Director of the Musée de l’Orangerie, and scientific director of the Agence France Museum in charge of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project. Since 2017, it has deeply renewed and revitalized the Musée d’Orsay around a program of exhibitions, live performances and a new approach to works, open to all audiences and artists of today.

During her four years at the Orsay, Des Cars, who comes from a family of writers and journalists, has taken a stance on some controversial topics, including by coming out in favour of restituting works looted by Nazis.

“A great museum must face history, including by looking back at the history of our owns institutions,” she told AFP in an interview.

She was instrumental in the French government’s decision for the Orsay to hand back a Gustav Klimt painting, “Roses”, to the heirs of its previous owner Nora Stiasny. The Nazis had stolen it from her in Vienna in 1938.

Under Des Cars’s leadership, Louvre Museum’s 2019 exhibition “Black Models: From Gericault to Matisse” explored racial and social issues through the representation of black figures in visual arts.

A museum’s shows should reflect “the big issues in society, and thus attract new generations” of visitors “of all ages and from all social-cultural backgrounds”, she told AFP.

Des Cars will in September succeed Jean-Luc Martinez, the current Louvre chief who is credited with making the museum more accessible and less elitist.

As reported by the French cultural ministry, the President of the Republic and the Minister of Culture salute the work done by Jean-Luc Martinez at the head of the Louvre for more than eight years. During his two terms, Mr. Martinez has increased the number of visitors to the establishment to more than 10 million per year and has enabled it to win new audiences, through a policy of voluntary mediation and the improvement of reception conditions within the museum. It also reinforced the international influence of the Louvre, with, in particular, the remarkable success of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

In view of his great expertise in this field and the legitimacy it brings to him internationally, Jean-Luc Martinez will be appointed, on a decision by the President of the Republic, Ambassador, in charge of international cooperation in the field of heritage from 1 September 2021.

Jean-Luc Martinez will continue to hold the presidency of the Louvre until August 31, 2021, to accompany the reopening of the museum and to complete the preparation of the exhibition «Paris-Athens, naissance de la Grèce moderne, 1675–1919», of which he is general curator.

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