Foreign museum appointments spark row

Germans Schmidt, Hollberg at Uffizi, Accademia in Florence

(ANSA) - Rome, August 18 - A 'foreign legion' of non-Italian art experts were appointed to head seven of Italy's 20 most prestigious museums Tuesday, sparking controversy in the art world.
    The naming of German art expert Eike Schmidt to lead the Uffizi Gallery, ousting longstanding director Antonio Natali, raised the most criticism.
    In all seven out of 20 appointments to head Italy's top public museums were garnered by foreigners including another German, Cecile Hollberg, aged 48, an art historian, who takes over running the Florence Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's David.
    Canadian-born Briton James Bradburne, 59, is the new director of Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and French art historian Sylvain Bellenger takes over the directorship of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. "With these 20 appointments of such great international scientific standing the Italian museum system turns the page and catches up on a delay of decades," said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini".
    Maverick art critic Vittorio Sgarbi lashed out at the decision, saying the minister "mortifies his army, he doesn't defend the troops that he has. "The choice to hold a competition for the directors of the 20 main Italian museums is a dangerous political act, that the minister will pay for - the 20 selected are capable people, but I don't believe that the new director of the Uffizi Eike Schmidt is better than the outgoing one, Antonio Natali".
    "Seven? And why not 10 or one? Without speaking of the '10 women and 10 men,' an unprecedented thing ..." Christina Acidini, formerly director of Florence's museums, echoed the criticism, saying "I directed 27 museums during my career and I don't believe there was this delay that the minister talks about. "The art historians who work in state museums, professionals of international prestige, have been very much underestimated".
    Art historian Tomaso Salvatori described the list of appointments as "overall, mediocre". However Confcultura president Patrizia Asproni supported the minister. "The change is welcome, it was necessary," she said.
    The average age of the winners is 50. Out of the 20 named, 10 are men and 10 women. Four are Italians returning from abroad (Martina Bagnoli, Flaminia Gennari Santori and Paola D'Agostino from the USA and Eva Degl'Innocenti from France). As far as professional background is concerned, 14 are art historians, four are archaeologists and two are cultural managers. One was named from inside a ministry. The names: 1) BORGHESE GALLERY(Rome): Anna Coliva, 62, art historian.
    2) UFFIZI GALLERY (Florence): Eike Schmidt, 47, art historian.
    3) NAZIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART (Rome): Cristiana Collu, 46, art historian.
    4) GALLERIE DELL'ACCADEMIA of Venice: Paola Marini, 63, art historian.
    5) CAPODIMONTE MUSEUM (Naples): Sylvain Bellenger, 60, art historian.
    6) BRERA PINACOTECA (Milan): James Bradburne, 59, museumologist and cultural manager.
    7) REGGIA OF CASERTA: Mauro Felicori, 63, cultural manager.
    8) FLORENCE ACCADEMIA GALLERY: Cecilie Hollberg, 48, historian.
    9) ESTENSE GALLERY (Modena): Martina Bagnoli, 51, art historian.
    10) NATIONAL GALLERIES OF ANCIENT ART (Rome): Flaminia Gennari Santori, 47, art historian.
    11) GALLERIA NAZIONALE DELLE MARCHE (Urbino): Peter Aufreiter, 40, art historian.
    12) GALLERIA NAZIONALE DELL'UMBRIA (Perugia): Marco Pierini, 49, art historian and philosopher.
    13) MUSEO NAZIONALE DEL BARGELLO (Florence): Paola D'Agostino, 43, art historian.
    14) MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE (Naples): Paolo Giulierini, 46, archaeologist.
    15) MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE (Reggio Calabria): Carmelo Malacrino, 44, archaeologist.
    16) MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE (Taranto): Eva Degl'Innocenti, 39, archaeologist.
    17) PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO of PAESTUM: Gabriel Zuchtriegel, 34, archaeologist.
    18) PALAZZO DUCALE of MANTUA: Peter Assmann, 61, art historian.
    19) PALAZZO REALE, GENOA: Serena Bertolucci, 48, art historian.
    20) POLO REALE of TURIN: Enrica Pagella, 58, art historian.
   

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