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Louvre-Lens director Xavier Dectot steps down after five years, and heads for Edinburgh

Medieval expert will head the department of art and design at the National Museum of Scotland

Xavier Dectot is stepping down as director of the Louvre-Lens museum in northern France to take up a new role at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, where the 42-year-old will head the department of art and design.

Opened in December 2012 on a former mining site, the northern outpost of the Paris museum has since welcomed almost two million visitors. The satellite branch drew 900,000 visitors in its first year compared with 400,000 in 2015.

When he was appointed early 2011, Dectot was considered a surprise choice to lead Louvre-Lens. A specialist in Medieval sculptures and ceramics, he was previously a curator at Paris's Musee Cluny (Musée National du Moyen Age). He leaves the Louvre-Lens on 31 March; museum officials say that the search is underway for his successor.

During his tenure, Dectot organised a series of popular scholarly exhibitions including Seeing the Sacred (2013), and Gold and Ivory: Paris, Pisa, Florence, Siena 1250-1320 (2015).

The regional French newspaper La Voix du Nord credits him with working closely with local authorities and “placing the museum at the heart of the mining region”. He was also instrumental in establishing a business and arts digital hub called Louvre Lens Vallée.

Dectot joins the National Museum of Scotland at a key moment. This summer, the institution is due to open ten new galleries, dedicated to science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion, after a £14.1m redevelopment.