Los Angeles 12/28/2012 4:49:41 AM
News / Art

A New Vision for the Louvre

Holders of Paris metro passes enjoy a medley of attractions and historical sites throughout the capital city of France. Among the most prominent destinations for guests is the Louvre museum. 

The Louvre has recently announced the departure of its current president, Henri Loyrette, 60, inciting speculation as to who will assume leadership of the institution, especially at at time when sluggish economic conditions have compelled the new Socialist ruling party in France to make cuts in the cultural budget of nation not seen over the last 30 years. 

One of the most intriguing elements of the search for a new director for the museum is the possibility that a foreigner may be considered for the position given that foreign guests have made the institution an international attraction with 67 percent of the annual guests to the museum coming from outside France, namely the United States. 

Based on the names being circulated, there is some reason to suggest a change may be in the works. Neil McGregor, the director of the British Museum; Gary Tinterow of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Colin Bailey, chief curator at the Frick Collection in New York have been mentioned. Tinterow has already received recognition from the French government for his work receiving the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Loyrette over the last 12 years has guided the museum to remarkable growth since he took the helm in 2001. He helped to establish a satellite of the museum, the Louvre Lens, in northern France; development of the Abu Dhabi Louvre and the opening of a new Islamic Arts department with significant funds raised from Middle Eastern royalty. During his tenure, attendance at the museum has nearly doubled from 5.1 million to approximately 10 million.

The current Socialist government, headed by President Francois Hollande, will decide on the next director with the onus on the minister of culture Aurélie Filippetti who has had to make difficult decisions regarding the French cultural budget that has been slashed by over four percent to 2.4 billion euros.

The Louvre has already felt the impact of this reduced funding. Plans have been delayed to establish a warehouse to maintain works of art in Cergy-Pontoise as well as a venture to develop an annex in the Hotel de la Marine, an 18th-century stone structure located at the Place de la Concorde.

Potential French successors to the institution's leadership include current museum officials such as Vincent Pomarede, director of the Louvre’s painting department, and Jean-Luc Martinez, head of the Greek Antiquities department. Michel Hilaire, of the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, Lourent Le Bon, head of the Centre Pompidou and Sylvain Amic who recently assumed the directorship at the Museum of Fine Arts in Rouen have been mentioned as potential candidates as well. 

Since 2008 owners of Paris metro passes have enjoyed a splendid collection organized in eight curatorial divisions: Islamic Art; Egyptian Antiquities; Sculpture; Near Eastern Antiquities; Decorative Arts; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Prints and Drawings; and Paintings.

With a collection exceeding 1 million works of art, the institution was first established as the private collection of King Francis I. The Mona Lisa painting was one of the initial works purchased. During the French Revolution in 1793, the Louvre developed into a national art institution, opening the private royal collection to the public.

Of the 35,000 works on display, housed in more than three wings of the former palace, the most prominent works include the Venus of Milo, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo, the Nike of Samothrake and the aforementioned Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.