Sunday, November 19, 2006

Profile: Henri Loyrette

To coincide with the Louvre Egyptology exhibition currently showing in Australia, there is a profile about the current head of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette: "Little in Henri Loyrette's demeanour suggests an implacable revolutionary. Yet this affable 54-year-old Degas scholar has steamrolled resistance to shake up one of the most venerable institutions. In 2001 he took over the Louvre, the grandest cultural institution in France, a country that places enormous value on its culture as well as its institutions, and since then Loyrette has sped reform at a dizzying pace. The first thing he did was to wrest administrative control of the museum from the hegemonic French Ministry of Culture. Then he set about expanding its buildings, its public programs and its scholarly remit. His ambitions were high: to change the Louvre from a grand but reified presence into a questing international player. Opposition has faded as the Louvre has flourished. . . . The French have a long scholarly history in the Middle East. The first curator of Egyptology at the Louvre, Jean-Francois Champollion, who cracked the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics, established the department under royal decree in 1826. Another Frenchman, Auguste Mariette, set up the Cairo Museum. There is still a significant French scientific presence in Egypt: excavations at Saqqara, funded by the French Ministry of Culture, are headed by the Louvre's director of Egyptian antiquities, Christiane Ziegler."
See the above page for the full story.

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