On May 26, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron signed an order appointing Laurence des Cars, president of the Musée d'Orsay and Orangerie, as the new director of the Louvre. She will assume her duties on September 1 and will be the first woman in this position in all the years of the museum's existence. The current director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, will become an exceptional ambassador for international cooperation on cultural heritage. The Art Newspaper reported this.

In addition to Laurence des Cars, this position was claimed by Jean-Luc Martinez, the current director of the Louvre who heads the museum for eight years, and the Head of the Picasso Museum in Paris Laurent Le Bon.

One of the tasks of a new director will be to increase exceptional attendance of the museum, which fell because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times noted that des Cars belongs to an aristocratic family (like many of the Louvre's executives before Martinez). She studied art history at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the Louvre School. Her academic speciality is nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art, and she is the author of several books on the Pre-Raphaelites.

The beginning of des Cars' career

The art historian began her profession at the Musée d'Orsay as curator of Arts in 1994. In 2007, she was selected scientific director of the French Museums Agency and was responsible for the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

In 2014, she was appointed the Head of the Musée de l'Orangerie and three years later of the Musée d'Orsay, where Laurence maintained the social importance of the institution. Among the museum's landmark exhibitions led by des Cars are "Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse" in 2019 and "The Origin of the World. The Invention of Nature in the Nineteenth Century" in 2021.

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Laurence des Cars also supports the return of artworks looted by the Nazis during World War II. Under des Cars in March 2021, the Musée d'Orsay became the first France museum that voluntarily returned the artwork which the Nazis illegally appropriated. The painting in question is Gustav Klimt's "Roses Under Trees," which the government purchased in 1980 from the heirs of Philipp Heusler, who, in turn, bought it at a reduced price from its previous owner, Eleonora Stiasna, using his position in Nazi-annexed Austria.

Stiasny's heirs filed a restitution claim in 2019. As des Cars noted at that time, removing such an important painting from the national collection is a hard decision that demonstrates a collective responsibility to the victims of Nazi barbarism.

Innovations at the Louvre Museum

Immediately after her appointment, des Cars promised to review and prolong the opening hours of the Louvre, which now closes at 5:30 pm, to make it more accessible and open to youthful people who work. As for the museum's long-term development, the new director's precedence will establish an exchange within old art and modern society.