Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: Maria Michelle / Pixabay 7:00 p.m., February 21, 2024

Christophe Leribault, president of the Orsay and Orangerie museums, was appointed Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron, on the proposal of Minister of Culture Rachida Dati, at the head of the Château de Versailles, replacing Catherine Pgard.

The current president of the Orsay and Orangerie museums, Christophe Leribault, will take the helm of the Palace of Versailles, replacing Catherine Pgard, who held this position since 2011, after a procrastination of almost three years. Appointed Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron on the proposal of Minister of Culture Rachida Dati, Christophe Leribault, 60, will be in office from March 4, less than five months before the Paris Olympic Games, the equestrian events of which are to be held in this tourist hotspot.

An art historian and general heritage curator

Her appointment puts an end to an unprecedented period of transition, Catherine Pgard, 69, having been appointed interim to her own succession by presidential decree in October 2022, when her third term was due to end and she had reached the age limit since March 2021. Christophe Leribault took over as director of the Orsay Museum and the Orangerie Museum in October 2021, succeeding Laurence des Cars, appointed head of the Louvre Museum. During his mandate, future major works and an ambitious re-hanging of impressionist works were announced last June.


- “It amounts to millions of euros”, in Versailles or in the airports, very costly bomb threats

This art historian and general heritage curator, who spent his career in Paris, can boast of having brought the public back to Orsay in large numbers after the health crisis, thanks to several very successful exhibitions such as Edvard Munch in 2022 (724,414 visitors) and Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, which has just ended with a historic record of 793,556 visitors. In his new functions, he will notably have to face challenges concerning the "energy transition, digital revolution, modification of international tourism, evolution of patronage", underlined Rachida Dati in a press release, while welcoming the "remarkable action and results " by Catherine Pegard.

Three mandates carried out by Catherine Pgard, a record

A former political journalist, the latter was appointed in 2011 by President Nicolas Sarkozy to head the public establishment of the château, museum and national estate of Versailles, after having been his advisor in 2007. She served three terms under three different presidents, a record. The temporary work she has been doing since 2022 is also unprecedented, even if the law did not prohibit it.

Under his presidency, more than 10,000 additional m2 of the Versailles estate were opened to the public or restored, such as the Latona basin, the gallery of the history of the castle, the apartments of Mesdames (the six daughters of Louis XV), the carriage gallery, the Royal Chapel, the Dauphin's apartments and the Jeu de Paume room, an emblematic place of the French Revolution.

More recently, the castle opened Marie-Antoinette's private apartments to the public. “Woman of the network”, neither civil servant nor enarque, unlike her predecessors Christine Albanel and Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Catherine Pgard has “worked considerably for the French and international patronage of Versailles, as well as for its influence abroad”. according to those around him.


- The Palace of Versailles during the Second World War

Controversies and criticisms

Versailles and the Forbidden City of Beijing, for example, have signed an agreement to organize an exhibition, which will begin on April 1 in Beijing, on exchanges between France and China in the 18th century. Like some of his predecessors, Emmanuel Macron has used the Palace of Versailles extensively for his official receptions, including that in honor of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 or, more recently, the King of England Charles III.

Continuing the policy of openness to contemporary art started by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Catherine Pgard has also had to face several controversies, including that surrounding a sculpture by Anish Kapoor, vandalized after the artist had qualified it from "Queen's Vagina".

She also came under fierce criticism after the use of the castle and the Grand Trianon by the former boss of Renault-Nissan Carlos Ghosn, today targeted by three arrest warrants for financial embezzlement, misuse of corporate assets and money laundering. organized gang. As a patron, he used Versailles for professional but also private purposes, a matter which the courts are still investigating.