It was a phone call Laurence des Cars had long waited for—and when it finally came this week, it was a "joyful and emotional moment." "I will never forget that call," the 54-year-old art historian tells France Inter, via the Guardian, of the correspondence that informed her she's to become the first female president of the Louvre in the Paris museum's 228-year-history. French President Emmanuel Macron made the appointment Wednesday, pulling des Cars away from the Orsay and L'Orangerie museums, which she'd helmed since 2017, to this coveted post. Des Cars—a specialist in 19th- and 20th-century paintings who's known for supporting restitution for art stolen by the Nazis—will be taking over the job in September from Jean-Luc Martinez, who's been in the position for eight years and had competed against des Cars and others to remain there.
Among Des Cars' goals for the museum: Bring in more contemporary exhibits, team up on projects with other museums, and make the Louvre more appealing to younger people, tweaking the museum's hours so it can be more accessible. Des Cars tells the New York Times she realizes she's taking over during a challenging time. "This very long lockdown and closure of museums has been very painful," she says. "What I fear most is that ... people will be so insecure they will be afraid of the outside. 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." One thing that won't change under her direction: The museum's hold on its most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. It's "one of the joys of the world's great museums to go and see certain works knowing they will not have been moved." (Read more The Louvre stories.)