I meant to comment last month on an article (Au Louvre, les têtes tournent [Heads spin at the Louvre], September 10) by Vincent Noce for Libération. He reported that Henri Loyette, the director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, for the first time has hired a department head who is not French. In response to the charge he received, to shake up the organization of the museum as curators retire ("upsetting the customs of the seraglio," in Noce's humorous phrase), he has appointed a Dutch specialist in Italian drawing, Carel van Tuyll, formerly of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, to replace Françoise Viatte as head of the graphic arts department. A special executive order had to be issued, last December 26, to authorize the Louvre to hire a non-French curator. Loyrette has replaced one-half of the Louvre's eight department heads, with internal hires or experts drawn from other French museums.
The new department heads are appointed for a three-year, renewable term, whereas before it was the custom to stay in the position for life. The retirees are curators in the classical vein, strong personalities who don't tell tales, involved in union activities, and in their positions for more than 20 years. They were wells of knowledge, too, passionate from having acquired a matchless knowledge of their subject as well as the trust of collectors.These changes follow upon the decision to reduce the level of government funding the museum receives, in favor of private support and revenue. Even so, the Minister of Culture has insisted on announcing the recent appointments himself, the article says, to underscore the public nature of the museum.