I, the President of the French Republic, Will Appoint Martine Aubry as Head of the Louvre !

Update of 28/1/13 : Though our information was exact ((Martine Aubry’s name did indeed come up as a serious possibility for President of the Louvre among high ranking government officials), we have just learned that this appointment is fortunately no longer being considered.

Martine Aubry
Photo : Philippe J.
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Le Figaro Magazine published it "confidentially" last weekend, but the name had been rumored for several weeks already, practically since Henri Loyrette announced he did not wish to renew his position as president of the Louvre.
We knew it but had not mentioned it until now since - to our great naiveté - we could not actually believe it was really true [1]. Le Monde quotes "several persons close to her" who responded by saying this was "intox" or misinformation. We can now confirm that this is not the case and that the "exemplary" President of Republic is seriously considering entrusting Martine Aubry with the presidency of the Louvre. Please sit down, take a deep breath and reread this sentence slowly : "François Hollande is considering entrusting Martine Aubry with the presidency of the Louvre." It sounds insane, you say ? And yet it is true.

The statutes of the Louvre (now a rare exception among public establishments) stipulate however that "The president of the establishment be appointed, based on his scholarly qualifications, by decree as proposed by the Minister in charge of culture.". If taken into account, then it would appear impossible to appoint Martine Aubry as head of the Musée du Louvre (just writing it seems surrealist). But we know that the statutes of a public establishment can be changed by decree, the latest scandalous example being that of the public establishment at Versailles.
"I, President of the Republic, will appoint Martine Aubry as head of the Louvre." François Hollande did not include this statement in his list of promises during his television debate with his predecessor during the election campaign last spring. Of course we understand how convenient this might be for him personally. Finding a spot for Martine Aubry, in other words, getting her out of his political way, means eliminating any potential opponents in his party.

Obviously Martine Aubry, who is not known for her "scholarly qualifications" is totally insensitive to art except for that which concerns contemporary manifestations. Exacty what degrees does she hold justifying her as director of the Louvre ? None. She has never even remotely worked in the cultural domain. Can she be seen as a legitimate choice to manage the curators at the Louvre ? No. Does the President of the Republic, who we all know is deeply concerned by national heritage and museums (the 2013 budget was cut by 9.8% as compared to 2012), not understand that a museum such as the Louvre should have a scholar at the helm and that the establishment cannot be used as a cubbyhole to sideline his opponents ? Does he have any idea of the image France would, once again, be sending out to the rest of the world ?

There comes a moment when "our cup runneth over". We can only hope that François Hollande will give up this idea which for now does not seem to have at all even vaguely struck him as being grotesque. And if, alas, this unfortunate likelihood did indeed come to pass, that the directors of the major international museums, that French art historians and curators - including those at the Louvre - with a modicum of pride and love for their discipline will unanimously step forth as one to say that the President has gone too far.

If she were to be appointed, Martine Aubry would never be accepted as having any legitimacy to head the Louvre.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 25 mars 2013


[1] However, we should recall that the possibility of appointing Xavier Darcos as head of Versailles had also come up once (see article, in French).

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