Laurence des Cars wants a new “Grand Louvre”

Paris. A Louvre lagging behind, whose “model is disrupted”, left behind in innovation by its international equivalents: in front of the national representation, Laurence des Cars did not embellish the reality of his establishment. The president and director of the Louvre was interviewed on April 30 by the Cultural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, and wanted to instill a sense of urgency in the minds of the deputies present. To resolve the many problems of the largest museum in the world, Laurence des Cars has been talking for several months with the Ministry of Culture, and more unofficially with the President of the Republic, on whose desk all major cultural files pass. Also, a few elected officials won over to her cause will not be too much to defend the grand master plan that she is calling for.

During her hearing, the president of the Louvre multiplied the references to the Grand Louvre, “a crucial moment, but by no means a completion”, implicitly criticizing the wait-and-see attitude of his predecessors who rested on this project completed in 1993: “The founding gesture of the Grand Louvre made us forget the structural needs of a palace which is also a museum, a museum which is also a palace, and of which entire sections were not touched by the major works of the 1980s- 1990. »

A few serious incidents have put the maintenance of the palace museum back at the top of the pile of concerns for the establishment. On November 11, 2023, water infiltration in the Sully wing forced the museum to permanently close the “Claude Gillot” exhibition inaugurated five days earlier, and to return the treasures from the National Museum of Capodimonte (Naples) earlier than planned. ) temporarily exhibited in a room of the Chapel which found itself flooded. Significant temperature differences also pose a risk for the conservation of the works. The president of the Louvre also mentions the obsolescence of technical equipment installed thirty years ago, “put to the test of overcrowding”, and recalls that the major cultural project of President François Mitterrand has not treated all the buildings surrounding the Cour Carrée: “Towards the east of the building, there are rooms still in their 1970 state.”

The issue of overcrowding

Under her ministerial supervision, Laurence des Cars defends the idea of ​​a multi-year investment plan, tackling head-on all the problems facing the Louvre: the building disorders that are occurring, but also the issue of tourist overcrowding as well as that of accessibility. Already a year ago, she launched in the museum newspaper Large Gallery the idea of ​​an opening to be created to the east of the museum, through its large “Perrault colonnade”. “There is no alternative concentrating so many solutions”, she defended again in front of the deputies.

Once open, the colonnade overlooking the Place du Louvre would relieve a congested Pyramid: the latter was designed to accommodate 4 million tourists annually, while the Louvre now sees an attendance of 9 million visitors per year. In the ditches dug after the war in front of the facade, the Louvre also has a reserve of space to accommodate a temporary exhibition room on the level of those of the major French museums, a significant deficiency identified by the president: “Despite work carried out in the Napoléon hall, which will reopen in the fall, this space which we have managed to increase to 1,300 m² will not offer the modernity, amplitude and modularity of the exhibition rooms that our visitors know in other museums. »

Is it also in this eastern entrance that Laurence des Cars imagines being able to accommodate ThereMona Lisa ? The proposal to reserve a room for the museum's best-known work – an old idea that comes up periodically – seems more necessary than ever. Supported by the president and director, it resonates with conservatives exhausted by the permanent traffic jam in front of the Portrait of Mona Lisaand frustrated by the Olympian calm which reigns in certain departments.

Coming to the National Assembly to convince of the need for planning projects over a decade, Laurence des Cars also took stock of the development of the ninth department of the museum, that of the Art of Byzantium and Christendom in the East. , created by decree in October 2022. It is currently the subject of an international scenography competition, with an opening planned for 2027. “Its deployment is designed to be in permanent link with the overhaul of the route dedicated to Roman antiquities and the redevelopment of the Islamic Arts department,” said the president about this new department which will probably find its place in the Denon wing.

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