The Louvre has made a historic new recruit: for the first time in nearly 230 years of history, the largest art museum in the world will be headed by a woman. Laurence des Cars, who directed the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie for four years, will take up her post as President and CEO of the Louvre on September 1. She replaces Jean-Luc Martinez, who took over the management. since April 2013.
Des Cars is no stranger to the world of the Louvre; born in the suburbs of Paris, she studied and then taught at the École du Louvre — the school on the museum campus — and, as scientific director of the France-Muséums agency, Des Cars participated in the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opens its doors in the United Arab Emirates in 2017.
Coming at the end of 15 long and difficult months for cultural institutions around the world, Des Cars’ appointment represents a bold move to get the Louvre back on its feet as France slowly reopens. (Other candidates for the position reportedly included Sophie Makariou, president of the Guimet Museum; Laurent Le Bon, president of the Picasso Museum; and Christophe Leribault, director of the Petit Palais.) In an interview with France Inter radio, Des Cars articulated the missions of his mandate, one of which is to attract more French and international young people to the museum. “The Louvre has a lot to say to young people, they will be at the heart of my concerns as president,” she said. “The Louvre can be fully contemporary, opening up to today’s world while telling us about the past.