Honoring the accomplishments of Henri Loyrette
Dear Henri Loyrette,
Dear Kip Forbes,
Members of the Board of the American Friends of the Louvre,
Dear Sue Devine,
Ambassador and Gabrielle Bekink,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Honored guests and friends,
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all tonight to the French consulate, a place that is particularly dear to me, as we are gathered here this evening to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Henri Loyrette, who is stepping down as head of the Louvre after 12 years at the helm of this exceptional museum. I would like to thank all of you for being here to pay tribute to such an amazing representative of the art world and a great friend of America.
May I recognize Philippe de Montebello, Guy Wildenstein, Laura Pels, Diana Widmaier-Picasso, Elizabeth Stribling, and I should acknowledge by name each and everyone of you.
Dear Henri Loyrette, your tenure at the Louvre has been an incredible success story ; during the 12 years you spent as director of the Louvre, you have championed many projects that were close to your heart, and you have successfully completed most if not all of them:
I know for a fact that the Department of Islamic Art was one you held particularly dear. You were able to bring back into fashion an amazing collection, thus allowing the Louvre to vie, in terms of Islamic Art, with the most prestigious museums in the world, such as the Met, here, for example.
Bringing the public back into the museum was another of the priorities you had set for yourself; your persistence and commitment to this have transformed the Louvre into one of the most visited museums in the world with approximately 10 million visitors annually, including a million American visitors. The bond between the Louvre and American public and patrons has been greatly strengthened during your tenure.
The creation, in 2002, at the instigation of Kip Forbes, of the American Friends of the Louvre, is the epitome of the link that unites the Louvre and the American public, and the AFL has intensely contributed to all the projects you headed.
The Louvre is the favorite museum of the American people and its reputation here in the United States is almost mythical. Each year that reputation is upheld by new projects jointly carried out with the AFL. In the last 10 years, almost a dozen exhibitions have been organized in collaboration with the Louvre, from New York to Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and San Francisco, to name a few.
“Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette” has just closed in San Francisco, while an exhibition of American art is taking place right now at the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre has become one of the most influential and innovative means of our cultural diplomacy.
Kip Forbes will tell us more about Henri Loyrette and the great partnership that he and you have established and developed with this country, but let me say a few words about the American Friends of the Louvre. I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of Kip Forbes, to whom I bestowed the insignia of Officer in the Legion of Honor a few weeks ago, to his fellow members of the board of directors, and the staff, who have raised significant funds for the Louvre’s various projects.
These include a major contribution toward the restoration of the Louvre’s 18th-century decorative arts galleries, major gifts for the Louvre Endowment, and grants for conservation, exhibitions, publications and education programs. I would also like to acknowledge the generosity and loyalty of the many members and donors who have supported the organization and helped make these generous gifts to the Louvre possible.
Dear Henri Loyrette, before I give the floor to Kip, let me renew my admiration for the work you have done during your tenure at the Louvre, and thank once again all those present tonight to support you. Merci./.