The Musée du Louvre’s President-Director Jean-Luc Martinez and the entire staff of the museum wish to express their great sadness and deepest regret at the passing of I. M. Pei. A visionary architect who enjoyed an exceptionally rich and long career, Pei followed in the footsteps of acclaimed architects who have shaped the palace since the 12th century, leaving an indelible mark on the museum with his work that boldly took the Louvre into the modern era.
Appointed Head Architect of the new Grand Louvre project in July 1983, Pei designed an underground central reception area in the shape of a pyramid, enabling direct access to the Louvre’s three wings.
Along with this ingenious single entry point, Pei created new exhibition spaces in the Richelieu wing, storage rooms, an auditorium, a shopping center, bookstores, restaurants, and the Carrousel garden. His creations, which have become the Louvre’s heart and lungs, have been instrumental in making this the world’s leading museum.
From its inauguration on March 30, 1989, the Pyramid took little time to become recognized as a masterpiece, held across the world as being iconic of both the Louvre and the city of Paris. As 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Pyramid, a full program of events has been organized this year to celebrate its creation.
The monument certainly attracts many admirers and to accommodate for growing visitor numbers—a record-breaking 10.2 million people passed through the museum in 2018; twice as many as when the Grand Louvre was first unveiled to the public—I.M. Pei continued to advise on ways to improve the facilities and visiting conditions, allowing us to develop a renovation project initiated in 2016.
I. M. Pei was a diligent, dependable architect and a true master of his craft. He instilled great enthusiasm in all those who had the pleasure of working alongside him at the Louvre over the course of this vast project. His infectious smile will remain cherished in our memories.
In 1983, when accepting the Pritzker Prize, he spoke of the Louvre as the accomplishment of a lifetime.