• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

France's famed Louvre art gallery gets new boss

AFP · 3 Apr 2013, 19:04

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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
Aussie TV show accused of staging French burkini row
Photo: Channel 7 screengrab

Was an Australian TV report about France's burkini ban a set up to portray the French as "anti-Muslim"?

Five ways Paris is better than it was 15 years ago
All photos: AFP

Here's how one man says Paris has changed for the better over his last 15 years in the city.

Man in 60s wounds two in France supermarket shooting
Photo: AFP

A police SWAT team has surrounded gunman's apartment.

Paris makes 'history' by banning cars on river bank

The French capital is going green with a vengeance.

France's hospital doctors stage strike to highlight crisis
Photo: AFP

Unions have called for a "massive" walk-out among hospital doctors.

France's last 'real Camembert' cheese fights for survival
All photos: Charly Triballeau/AFP

It's a cheese maker's take on David and Goliath.

PSG's Serge Aurier sentenced to jail for attack on policeman
Photo: AFP

PSG player had attacked a police officer outside a night club on the Champs Elysées.

Paris city chiefs ready to let nudists hang out in park
Photo: AFP

A nudist park in Paris? "We're going to do it," says City Hall.

Hollande calls on UK to help solve Calais migrant crisis
Photo: AFP

The French president knows that immigration is a key issue of the presidential election battle.

Air France plane dumps fuel 'over Fontainebleau forest'
Photo: AFP

The mayor of the famous town near Paris is furious.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
National
Paris set to make river bank car-free for six-month trial
2,725
jobs available