Louvre Director Fights to Keep His Post
April 15, 2021
Jean-Luc Martinez, who until Tuesday was director of the Louvre, Paris, has been named interim director as he waits for French officials to inform him of his fate. The decision as to his tenure at the storied museum has been hitherto delayed by culture minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin’s battle with Covid-19, which saw her hospitalized for three weeks, returning to work on April 12.
Martinez, an archaeologist who joined the Louvre in 1997 as a curator of Greek sculpture, was named director in 2013 by President Emanuel Macron. His leadership has been fraught in recent years, with supporters lauding the 2017 launch of the Louvre Abu Dhabi under his leadership as well as a broadening of the institution’s youthful and international audience, with about half of the museum’s visitors—which in 2018 totaled more than ten million—being under the age of thirty and three-quarters of them coming from outside France. Meanwhile, critics have decried various merchandising initiatives, including an ill-timed partnership with Airbnb and a sponsorship deal with French automaker DS Automobiles that led to the marketing of a limited-edition car called the Louvre. A recent gallery restoration that clashed with an in-situ Cy Twombly work and sparked a lawsuit has been another bone of contention, though Martinez has said that the renovations were planned in 2008 and that the American artist was aware of their imminence when he completed the work in 2010.
At present at least six other candidates are being considered for the job, among them Sophie Makariou, president of the National Museum of Asian Arts Guimet; Laurent Le Bon, president of the Musée Picasso; Christophe Leribault, director of the Petit Palais; and Marie Lavandier, director of the Louvre’s Lens museum. Should Martinez be reinstated to his post, the stint at the museum’s helm would be his last, in accordance with French law.