Projects at the Louvre until 2020

17/02/008 — Museum policy — Paris, Musee du Louvre — Christine Albanel, French Ministry of Culture and Henri Loyrette, Director of the Louvre presented a few days ago this museum’s projects for the coming years until 2020 to the press gathered at the auditorium in the Louvre.

We will not comment on the compliments they paid each other on the plans for the Louvre-Lens and the Louvre-Abou-Dhabi, nor on those projects announced previously (the new spaces devoted to Islamic Arts, the renovation of the XVIIIth century furniture galleries, the renovation of the Sphynx courtyard as well as the itinerary of the Etruscan and Roman collections, the rearrangement of the welcome hall, the general layout for fire safety, the development of access for handicapped visitors, the renovation of the Jardins des Tuileries [1] and the creation of a Center for reserves, restoration and research) to concentrate our discussion here on three new projects.

The first consists in transforming, finally, the offices on the second floor of the Cour Carree into exhibition spaces, on the Seine side, which at the moment are partially occupied by the central library for National Museums. This project had been under consideration for quite some time. Nine more rooms will be opened for exhibiting French paintings, notably large formats of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries which could not be displayed until now. What good news, if it were not for the fact that these rooms are also supposed to welcome the English painting collection. The latter is to be installed in a renovated area, funded by Michel David-Weill, and which was to have been inaugurated in 2005…Given the dates now foreseen for the work (2015-2018), the reopening of the English painting galleries, of which only a selection is today on view (see News of 8/7/07), will be only thirteen years late, at the least !

The second project involves the creation of new rooms devoted to the history of the Louvre. The chronological visit will begin at the foundations of the Medieval castle and end at the Pavillon Sully on the first floor of the building which is at the moment closed to the public (it currently holds reserves). This will allow a better presentation of the Palace’s history and the collections related to it, but especially, by freeing the two rooms that house the theme today, return these to the Graphic Arts department. Let us remember that the Drawings Cabinet had had its temporary exhibition galleries, in the Flore wing, confiscated for the installation of an “antenna” for the Musee du Quai Branly.

A third project seems for the moment to be a bit vague. After removal of the restoration and research workshops for the Musees de France [2], the idea is to “return” the Flore Pavilion to the public. This is a fine initiative since the Grand Louvre had deprived the museum of some of its most beautiful galleries when excluding this pavilion. On the other hand, it is not clear what these rooms will be used for. In the words of the press release, as “the Louvre is still hard to grasp”, it has been decided that “a new museum space will be […] devoted to a form of popular education where a sort of user’s manual for the museum and its collections will be explained and staged. The encyclopedic dimension of the Louvre, presented from the Museum’s beginning will be explained to the visitors as it constitutes its foundation.” This ambitious program is hard to understand, a serious drawback for a pedagogical project.

Let us point out, in concluding, that the Minister of Culture announced the opening of an endowment fund, or even several. She was not able, however, to answer clearly a journalist’s question asking for more details on the subject : where would the funds come from, to which museum(s) will they be allotted, how will this come into play with the official Ministry budgets ?

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 17 février 2008


[1] The Jardin des Tuileries is currently part of the Public Establishment of the Louvre.

[2] The C2RMF’s move and its coupling with the Research Center have been confirmed. The new location has not yet been disclosed although work on the site is planned for 2008-2011

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