Françoise Cachin was born into a distinguished family. Her grandfathers were Marcel Cachin, a founder of the French Communist Party and its newspaper, L’Humanité, and Pointillist painter Paul Signac. It was the latter's influence that won out, as she chose to study art at the Sorbonne’s Institute of Art and Archaeology. She was an art historian specializing in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism when in 1969, she became a curator at the National Museum of Modern Art and oversaw its move into the Pompidou Center. In 1978, she joined the planning team for a new museum to be dedicated to 19th-century art and housed in a former railway station, the Gare d’Orsay, and was named director of the Musée d'Orsay. Several of her books were translated into English, among them "Paul Signac" (1971), "Gauguin: The Quest for Paradise" (1992) and "Manet: The Influence of the Modern" (1995). She retired as Director of French Museums, with responsibility for the nation's 34 national museums and more than 1,000 city and local museums, in 2001. Ms. Cachin also helped create and run the French Regional and American Museum Exchange, a network to promote cooperation and shared exhibitions between French and American museums outside major cities.