Pioneering Louvre boss to quit

Pioneering Louvre boss to quit
Henri Loyrette speaks at the unveiling of Lucas Cranach's "Les Trois Graces" at the Louvre last year. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Henri Loyrette, the pioneering boss of the Louvre for over a decade, will quit the world's biggest museum at the end of his current term of office in April, he told AFP on Monday.

Loyrette, 60, has been at the helm of the Paris institution since 2001, having previously been in charge of the world's most important collection of impressionist art at the Musee d'Orsay.

He will leave the Louvre in good shape with visitor numbers, running at five million per year when he took over, expected to top 10 million this year with half of them composed of the under-30s.

Loyrette's time at the museum has been marked by two major projects which have been completed this year: a new wing dedicated to the Islamic arts and a satellite museum in the run-down northern city of Lens.

He will also be remembered for introducing contemporary art to the collection with purchases of works by the likes of Cy Twombly, Anselm Kieffer and François Morellet.

Loyrette will not however be in charge long enough to oversee the controversial opening of another Louvre outpost, in the Gulf state of Abu Dhabi.

That is due to open in 2015 in a building designed by prominent French architect Jean Nouvel. Abu Dhabi has paid around 1.3 billion dollars to use the Louvre name for 30 years and to tap the Paris museum for art works and expertise during that time.

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

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