• France edition
 
France's famed Louvre art gallery gets new boss
Photo: Zoetnet/flickr

France's famed Louvre art gallery gets new boss

Published: 03 Apr 2013 19:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Apr 2013 19:04 GMT+02:00

Fresh from being interviewed by French President Francois Hollande himself, Jean-Luc Martinez, an expert in Greek sculpture, was named Wednesday as the new boss of the famed Louvre museum.

The 49-year-old takes charge of one of the world's biggest museums and will oversee a number of projects including the controversial opening of a Louvre outpost in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, slated for 2016.

The deal has stirred debate in the French art world with critics raising questions about Abu Dhabi's record on the treatment of dissidents and the immigrant workers employed on the construction of the new museum.

"The Louvre, it's my life, my childhood dream, my teenage passion," Martinez told AFP after his nomination at the head of the museum, which attracts some 10 million visitors a year.

France's culture minister had reportedly leant towards appointing Sylvia Ramond, head of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon in southeastern France, who would have become the Louvre's first female director.

But in the end - and after three finalists were interviewed in person by Hollande - Martinez, director of the Louvre's department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiques since 2007, was finally chosen to head up the museum.

Born in 1964, Martinez comes from a modest background. His mother was a caretaker in a French apartment building, his father a postman, and they lived in a council estate just outside Paris.

He first visited the Louvre with his secondary school class and was blown away. It was "a real shock. It changed my life," he said. As a teen, he would often go to the museum, copying drawings of Greek vases.

He went on to pass his high school exams with flying colours, studied history, history of art and archaeology at university, worked as a history and geography professor and an archaeologist in Greece before joining the Louvre in 1997.

Martinez speaks Latin, ancient and modern Greek, English and Spanish, as well as a little Italian and German. He has also started learning Japanese.

He succeeds Henri Loyrette, who has been credited with doubling visitor numbers from five million per year when he took over in 2001 to around 10 million this year -- half of them under-30s.

Loyrette also oversaw the opening in 2012 of the Department of Islamic Art and of a Louvre satellite branch in the former northern mining town of Lens, aimed at bringing high culture and visitors to one of France's poorest areas.

Culture minister Aurelie Filippetti recently told AFP that she wanted "a change from a logic of expansion of the Louvre", which could indicate an end to the opening of museum outposts such as the one planned in Abu Dhabi.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Paris Picasso Museum re-opens after refit
Photo: AFP

Paris Picasso Museum re-opens after refit

After a five-year closure for what was supposed to be a two-year refurbishment, Paris's Picasso Museum re-opened Saturday with arguments over the €52 million project still reverberating. READ  

Renault chief sees 2015 auto market slowdown
Photo: AFP

Renault chief sees 2015 auto market slowdown

French carmaker Renault chairman, Carlos Ghosn, said Saturday that he expects slower growth in Europe's auto market next year as it continues to recover from the global economic crisis. READ  

French unemployment hits new record high
Photo: AFP

French unemployment hits new record high

Unemployment in France hit a new record in September, with official statistics published Friday showing 3.43 million people claimed jobless benefits. READ  

French claim success in Isis air raids
Photo: AFP/ECPAD/EMA/ARMEE DE L'AIR

French claim success in Isis air raids

France's Chief of the Defense Staff Pierre de Villiers has claimed that air strikes on Thursday and Friday by French, US and allied aircraft "hurt" Islamic State forces. READ  

French website exposes EU budget letter
French President Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

French website exposes EU budget letter

A confidential letter sent to France by the EU Commission demanding clarifications on its 2015 budget, which will break EU spending rules, was unveiled Friday by a French news website. READ  

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders
Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks to the press during a visit in the city of Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders

National Front leader Marine Le Pen visited the northern port city of Calais on Friday where tensions are high as authorities under increasing pressure to control the influx of illegal migrants trying to get to Britain. READ  

Burglar in the buff snared by French police
A burglar in the buff was snared red handed and bare-bottomed by French police this week. Photo: Shutterstock

Burglar in the buff snared by French police

French police were called out to a bizarre incident this week when they received calls from scared residents in villages in central France alerting them to the presence of a burglar who was targeting homes in the buff. READ  

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes. READ  

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'
France and its allies "hurt" Isis forces in Iraq, French military chief has said. Photo: AFP

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'

The leader of France's armed forces said his country's military "hurt" Isis forces in a recent raid led by the international coalition battling the extremists in Iraq. READ  

What's on in France
What's on in France: 11 things to do in November
The annual cider festival in Le Sap Normandy, just one of the many things to do in France in November. Photo: JCMayzaud

What's on in France: 11 things to do in November

If you're short of ideas for what to do in France in November, we've gathered together a list of 11 events that are well worth checking out, especially if you're into art, wine, music or just can't wait to get in the Christmas spirit. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se