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Who will lead the Musée d’Orsay?

Some staff question president Guy Cogeval's fitness to keep the post

by Claudia Barbieri Childs  |  3 March 2016
Who will lead the Musée d’Orsay?
There is trouble at the top in Paris. Photo: Karl Norling
The knives are out at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris as its president, Guy Cogeval, reaches the end of his second three-year term this month. Cogeval, aged 60, has put himself forward for a third term, according to a spokeswoman for the museum. But several members of the institution’s staff have publicly questioned his fitness for the job in light of a stroke he suffered in 2014.

Six curators at the museum anonymously contacted the newspaper Le Monde last month to contest Cogeval’s reappointment. They told the newspaper that the museum was in the midst of a “meltdown”. A spokeswoman for the Orsay dismissed the protesters as a minority of its 30 curators and declined to comment further. In a letter to Le Monde last month, Cogeval defended his record and criticised the newspaper for publishing an anonymous attack.

An adviser to France’s former culture minister Fleur Pellerin, who prepared a shortlist for the directorship, declined to say whether anyone else is under consideration. Le Monde named Laurence des Cars, the director of Paris’s Musée de l’Orangerie, as a possible candidate.

Cogeval organised a series of blockbuster shows during his tenure and recently announced a gift of 141 works by Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard from the estate of the collector Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière. (A selection is due to go on show from 1 March.) His administration has been blemished, however, by high-profile staff departures. In November, the museum’s chief curator of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, Sylvie Patry, left to become the chief curator of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

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