Louvre Director Resigns

December 18, 2012 | By Kathryn Hamilton

Less than a week after the much-celebrated opening of the Louvre-Lens, Henri Loyrette, president-director of the Louvre Museum, has announced that he is stepping down.

The Louvre is the most frequently visited museum in the world, and under M. Loyrette’s tenure the number of visitors has doubled.  In 2012 it set a new world record for attendance with around 10 million visitors.  It draws a young crowd too – the average age of visitors to the Louvre is 30.

During his time at the helm, M. Loyrette has headed two major new initiatives at the museum.  The first is the recently opened Louvre-Lens, designed by the Japanese firm SANAA, which brings a rotating selection of the Louvre collection to the former mining town in northern France.  This move is part of a growing mandate among French museums to give greater access to art and culture, and to expand the major museums beyond the capital.  The Pompidou in 2011 inaugurated a similar project, the Centre Pompidou Mobile, a roaming exhibition space aimed to bring masterpieces to underserved communities around the country.  

The second initiativehad been the most discussed: the Louvre Abu-Dhabi. This museum, which is slated to open in 2015 on the Saadiyat Island complex, takes the name of the Louvre under a 30 year agreement with the French State, paying around US$525 to the Louvre for the privilege.  The two museums do not share a collection, but the Louvre Abu-Dhabi will loan art work and management advice from the Paris museum.  This move, which reflects another global trend (Abu-Dhabi has a similar plan in progress with the Guggenheim), has been hotly debated both in France and around the world.

Under M. Loyrette’s leadership the Louvre has not only been the most popular museum in the world, but one of the leaders in the conversation over the future role of major arts institutions.

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