The directors of museums in Italy with recognized international careers, but foreigners, whose appointment was promoted in 2015 by the former Social Democratic Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, they will not be renewed. From now on, to be director of a public art gallery in the transalpine country it will be necessary to be Italian.
The confirmation came this week through the Undersecretary of Culture, Vittorio Sgarbi. “Why do I have to put a foreigner in charge of the Uffizi? Has a non-French ever been seen in the Louvre?” asked the eccentric and always controversial art critic, right-hand man of Gennaro Sangiuliano, Minister of Culture in the Government of Giorgia Meloni.
Sgarbi, close friend of the disappeared Silvio Berlusconi, had already announced in January its intention to “modify” the criteria for selecting candidates to take charge of the great Italian museums, once again unleashing controversy around the management of a dozen Italian art galleries, whose renovation is scheduled for the next months. “In particular, we are thinking about updating the composition of the commissions convened to judge the candidates,” he said then.
The current commission, said the undersecretary, “was born to respond to Franceschini’s idea of reform, which sought to open the doors of large independent museums to foreign directors. And he achieved it by naming many of them. For the next call we will think about commissions whose members are more linked to the territory,” he added.
In fact, thanks to the idea of the ex-minister Dario Franceschini to give priority to the curriculum over the identity card, in 2015 seven foreign experts – three Germans, two Austrians, one British and one French – were appointed to direct some of the main public art galleries in the transalpine country, along with 13 other Italians, most of the latter with extensive international experience in in front of cultural organizations from the United States or France. they all went chosen through a long selection process and examined by a commission of independent experts.
His election divided politicians and cultural managers in Italy because Franceschini’s ‘revolution’ opened the doors of some of the country’s most important cultural poles for the first time to expert foreigners in art history, cultural management or archeology of recognized international prestige, thus closing a stage of Italian dominance. The most striking change was the replacement in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, which came to be directed by the German Eike Schmidtexpert in Florentine art, replacing the Italian Antonio Natali.
The objective of the Meloni Government is that when the current mandate of the seven foreign directors expires in the coming months, they can be replaced by Italian experts. In the spotlight of the Undersecretary of Culture are above all the German Schmidt, but also the historian Cecilie Hollberg, who has directed the Accademia Gallery since 2015, the other great Florentine museum, where you can visit Michelangelo’s David; British architect and museologist James Bradburne, which is in front of the Brera Pinacoteca in Milan; either Sylvain Bellengerdirector of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.
The initiative of Sgarbi, known in Italy for his controversial interventions as a talk show host on television and his racist and sexist statements, was qualified by the Minister of Culture. “Foreigners should not be discriminated against. If they are good, they should be able to work for us,” Sangiuliano declared, trying to quell the controversy.
“I highly respect, for example, the directors of the Uffizi and Pompeii and I hope they can continue working in Italy,” added the Minister of Culture, while stressing that They will be, in any case, the exception and not the rule.
“The situation that I found when we arrived at the government was singular. The twelve main cultural institutions in the country were run by foreign directors,” explained Sangiuliano. “I seemed an unbalanced relationship. Especially since it seems paradoxical to me since many Italian universities are considered excellent in the world for the study of art history.