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Inside Candidate: Archaeologist/Curator Jean-Luc Martinez Named as Louvre’s New Director

Jean-Luc Martinez, new head of the Louvre, effective Apr. 15

Jean-Luc Martinez, new director of the Louvre, effective Apr. 15

Jean-Luc Martinez, 49, the Louvre’s head of Greek, Etruscan and Roman art since 2007, has been named to succeed Henri Loyrette as director of the world’s most visited museum, effective Apr. 15. The early word on la rue about the new director is enthusiastic.

In a detailed analysis of the appointment (and of the other candidates who were in the running), Nathaniel Herzberg of Le Monde said this promotion-from-within was “without doubt, the consensus choice.” Herzberg noted that this will be “the first time in 50 years” that an archaeologist has ascended to the museum’s top post.

Describing Martinez’s “atypical path” to his new job, Le Monde noted that he came “from a humble background,” teaching high school for two years and later working on archaeological digs in Delos and Delphi. “Greece was and remains his grand passion.”

Here’s what my French blogging buddy, Didier Rykner, had to say today in his Art Tribune about Martinez’s appointment:

This decision will no doubt help to avoid the inevitable resistance on the part of a colossus such as the Louvre to an outside director….[Martinez] is…unanimously respected by his peers and considered a true scholar, with a store of knowledge which goes far beyond his specialization….The new president faces the prospect of many new projects but has the advantage of knowing the Louvre and its difficulties particularly well.

Speaking of “new projects,” Martinez’s previous work in organizing the main gallery of the Louvre’s new branch in Lens, France (as reported by Farah Nayeri for Bloomberg) may help to inform his oversight of a much more ambitious satellite museum, the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2015. It will be interesting to see how the new director puts his own imprint on that controversial work-in-progress, so closely associated with his predecessor.

At this writing, there’s nothing about this momentous artworld appointment on the Louvre’s own website.

an ArtsJournal blog