For the first time in its 228-year history, the Louvre Museum in Paris will be directed by a woman. The world’s largest art museum is due to welcome Laurence des Cars as its president—she was chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron. A respected figure in the art world, des Cars is an expert in 19th-century art and is the current leader of Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. She will replace the current president of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez from September 1, 2021.
Most major museums in France are governed by male leaders, and it’s rare to see a woman in charge. When des Cars became president of Musée d’Orsay in 2017, she was the second woman to assume the role. There, she also served as curator from 1994 to 2007 and received acclaim for her groundbreaking exhibitions.
Des Cars hopes she can set an example for more women to go for similar, high-powered jobs in the art world. In 2018 she told The New York Times, “It’s a consequence of official institutions not reaching out to women enough, or not giving them enough confidence. We’re talking about cultural habits that are deeply ingrained in our societies.” In the interview that followed, she went on to say, “Women need to overcome their personal doubts, and to tell themselves: ‘I’m capable of this. It’s coming at the right time in my life and in my career. I’m ready for this.’”