A woman will head Louvre museum for first time in its history

Photo: French Ministry of Culture Laurence des Cars

The French presidency announced on Wednesday the appointment of Laurence des Cars, the current director of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, as new head of Louvre museum, news wires reported. The directors of France’s top public museums, which also include the Chateau de Versailles and the Pompidou Modern Art Museum, are directly appointed by French presidents.

Des Cars, 54, was tapped to replace from 1 September the Louvre’s outgoing director Jean-Luc Martinez, who had been in charge since 2013.  She is now set to become the first female director of the world's most visited museum since it was founded in 1793 during the French Revolution. Just four years ago she became the first woman to head the nearby Musée d’Orsay.

An art historian and specialist of the 19th and 20th centuries, des Cars won plaudits for her efforts to expand the Musée d’Orsay’s exhibition rooms and introduce greater diversity in its shows.

When des Cars took over at Orsay in 2017, she was only the second woman curator to head a major Paris museum, alongside Sophie Makariou at the Musée Guimet.

Des Cars will be taking over at a difficult time for the Louvre, which saw visitor numbers plummet in 2020 due to successive Covid-19 lockdowns, just two years after it set an all-time record of more than 10 million visitors over 12 months.

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