Jean-Luc Martinez.

Jean-Luc Martinez to Remain Head of the Louvre for Three More Years

Jean-Luc Martinez’s tenure as director of the Louvre has been extended by French president Emmanuel Macron. Martinez will remain at the helm of the institution for another three years. According to cultural minister Françoise Nyssen, he will continue to help maintain the Louvre’s status as “the world’s leading museum, by developing projects for international exhibitions and scientific partnerships around the world, particularly in Asia.”

Martinez first joined the Louvre in 1997 as a curator of Greek sculptures and eventually rose to become the head of the museum’s Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities department. After he succeeded former director Henri Loyrette in 2013, he quickly became known for his unorthodox leadership style. He once pretended to be a tourist during peak season, waiting in line for three and a half hours, putting his bag through security, and even asking for directions, so that he could experience the Louvre as a visitor would.

“If you are a professional, there is a risk at certain times you are only going to look at the museum with the eyes of a professional,” he told CNN in an interview he gave shortly after he was named director. “The people who visit the Louvre might only stop by once, and a trip to Paris is the holiday of their life. We have to make sure that they are received with a certain dignity.”

During his term, Martinez launched the long-awaited Louvre Abu Dhabi in November of last year, prioritized the preservation of cultural heritage by creating a fifty-point plan to protect art and artifacts from conflict zones in countries such as Syria and Iraq, and helped draw more visitors to the institution after it saw a decline in attendance following the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 and 2016. He also spearheaded a multiyear cultural exchange initiative between Iran and France. Last month, the Louvre loaned fifty artifacts to the National Museum of Iran in Tehran for a show that has been billed as the first large-scale exhibition by a major Western museum in Iran.

Martinez is currently overseeing the construction of a new storage center in Liévin, a city in northern France, which will store the Louvre’s collection. The museum has faced challenges in protecting its holdings from flood damage due to its proximity to the River Seine. The facility is expected to be operational by 2019.