The Louvre has a new woman in the picture.
She will be the first woman to take the reins since the museum opened in 1783 after the French Revolution.
The 54-year-old art historian and museum director was appointed to the new role by French President Emmaneul Macron, and she will replace current president Jean-Luc Martinez.
The famed home of the Mona Lisa will likely undergo significant changes under des Cars’ vision: she said she wants to attract young professionals for after-hours museum visits, and she also wants to add more interdisciplinary offerings that combine writing, music, dance, film and design.
“Let’s not be afraid,” she told the Times.
The museum certainly needs a fearless leader during these times — during the pandemic, attendance plunged from over 10 million visitors to just 2.7 million while it was closed for 150 days in 2020.
“This very long lockdown and closure of museums has been very painful,” des Cars said. “What I fear most is that there will be a temptation for people to close in on themselves, that people will be so insecure they will be afraid of the outside.”
She added, “I want to open the windows and open the doors and make connections so that people will see there is a whole wild world to discover.”
She is also joining the ranks of women who are rising to top positions in the art world. According to a 2019 study, the percentage of women holding executive leadership roles at art museums increased from 57% to 62% between 2015 and 2018, but barriers and pay inequities still exist — especially for women of color.
“Things are really changing for women in the museum world,” des Cars said, noting that more than half of the curators at the Louvre are women.