Italy appoints 20 new museum directors
by Ermanno Rivetti  |  18 August 2015

The Italian ministry of culture announced today, 18 August, the 20 new directors of Italy’s most important state museums. Out of the 20 posts—evenly split between men and women—seven have gone to non-Italian EU nationals (three Germans, two Austrians, one British and one French). The ministry made the selection from 1,200 Italian and 80 foreign applications with the help of a committee that included Paolo Baratta, the president of La Biennale di Venezia, and Nicholas Penny, the former director of London’s National Gallery.


Italy’s beleaguered state museums are famous for the strength of their collections but bogged down by outdated bureaucracy and insufficient funding. So the ministry decided to look for manager-directors with experience of the more financially attuned and efficient UK-US museum systems.


Three of the seven foreign candidates have been given the reins to institutions the ministry has listed as “first tier”. The Uffizi galleries will be run by the German art historian Eike Schmidt, formerly the head of decorative arts at the Minneapolis Institute of Art; Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera will be run by James Bradburne, the former head of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi; and the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, will now be headed by Sylvain Bellenger, the former head of European painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art.





Meet the new guard: How the Uffizi’s first foreign director plans to modernise the museum

by Menachem Wecker  |  18 November 2015


When Italy’s minister of culture called Eike Schmidt early one morning in August to offer him the job as director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, “I thought maybe I was still dreaming”, he says. This month, the German-born Schmidt, formerly a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, will become the first foreigner to lead the Uffizi—Italy’s most visited museum.



The museum welcomes nearly two million visitors a year, but it “was not built for mass tourism”. Queues during the summer can exceed two hours. And attendance is set to grow: the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, due to be moved under the Uffizi’s purview, will add another 1.2 million visitors a year.


The museum will adopt a two-pronged response: architectural and technological. “The focus on visitor experience in American museums is something that I can bring to the table,” Schmidt says. Over the next two years, the Uffizi will install new exits, a new entrance and a new space for temporary exhibitions. Schmidt also hopes to reopen the Vasari Corridor, which runs along the Ponte Vecchio. In addition, he intends to update ticketing software and launch mobile device programmes to avoid bottlenecking.



A step-by-step application process

1. Schmidt first learned of the 20 Italian museum openings from an advertisement in the Economist magazine, published in January.
1. シュミッツ氏は、まず、1月に出版された雑誌エコノミストに、イタリアの20ヶ所の美術館が募集広告を掲載していることを知った。

2. He submitted a CV, a publication list and a motivational letter to the ministry of culture.
2. 履歴書、出版物リスト、志望動機を文化省に提出した。

3. Italy, like France, uses a concorso model, in which the committee welcomes an application from anyone who meets the requirements. Schmidt ticked the boxes for three positions and was selected as one of ten finalists for the Uffizi and the Galleria Borghese in Rome.
3. イタリアはフランス同様コンコルソ(コンペ)方式を採用、つまり、委員会が要件にかなう応募者を審査する。シュミッツ氏は3ヶ所の美術館にチェックマークを入れたが、ウフィツィ美術館とローマのボルゲーゼ美術館の最終選考対象者10人の中に選ばれた。

4. After a half-hour interview with the ministry of culture in Rome in July, Schmidt emerged with a good feeling about the Borghese position. Six weeks later, the phone call—offering him the Uffizi job—caught him by surprise.
4. 7月にローマの文化省で30分の面談があり、その後、シュミッツ氏はボルゲーゼ美術館に選ばれそうな感触を持っていた。6週間後に電話が鳴り、ウフィツィ美術館のオファーがあって、シュミッツ氏は驚いた。