Laurence des Cars is to become the first female president of the Louvre, following her appointment by French president Emmanuel Macron.
Art historian des Cars is currently president of the Musée d’Orsay and L’Orangerie in Paris, and will take over from Jean-Luc Martinez at the Louvre in September 2021.
According to a statement by the French culture ministry, des Cars will focus on fostering a “dialogue between ancient art and the contemporary world” and widening the appeal of the Louvre, particularly for young people. She has pledged to extend the museum’s opening hours in order to make it more accessible for working people – it currently closes at 5.30pm.
“I’m deeply honoured by the trust placed in me by the President of the French Republic and the Minister of Culture in appointing me as head of this tremendous museum,” said des Cars.
“My ambition is to place the Louvre at the core of topical debates, and for it to foster reflection on all issues within society.
“Through its ‘longue durée approach’, the Louvre gives relevance to the present, it is wholeheartedly contemporary and can therefore speak volumes to today’s youth.
“The recent crisis has had a particularly destabilising impact, and has forced us to consider economic balances and to rethink – despite the constraints – the museum visit in terms of an exceptional experience,” she said.
A general curator of heritage, specialising in 19th and early 20th-century art, Laurence des Cars began her career at the Musée d’Orsay, before overseeing the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi between 2007 and 2014. Over the past four years, she has worked on broadening the appeal of the Musée d’Orsay and L’Orangerie, expanding the programme of exhibitions and live shows. In 2019, she oversaw the acclaimed exhibition Black models: from Géricault to Matisse at the Musée d’Orsay, which focused on the representation of black figures in visual arts, and in 2020 announced major transformation plans for the museum.
Des Cars plans to invite a range of contemporary artists and collaborators to the Louvre to enrich its work, while also emphasising the history of the museum.
“I want to see the great scholars who make the Louvre what it is, share their knowledge with absolute openness,” she said. “I also want to give modern-day creators the opportunity to express themselves.”