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Italy’s Museums

Procession in St. Mark’s Square, Gentile Bellini, Galleria dell’Accademia. Source: Wikimedia.

Ermanno Rivetti, Why Italy’s museums need this shake-up, The Art Newspaper, 3 July 2015

And why this major overhaul of the country’s state museums can still go very wrong due to vested interests and bureaucracy.

In the 18 months since he took office, the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s impact on domestic politics has been marked by his charismatic and sometimes forceful leadership style; the Italian media have nicknamed him “il rottamatore” (the scrapper). While he attempts to put Italy’s education system and employment law through radical reforms, his minister of culture, Dario Franceschini, is doing the same with the country’s beleaguered museums, famous for the strength of their collections but bogged down by outdated management and labyrinthine bureaucratic practices.

In January this year, the ministry of culture announced an international competition to find energetic new manager-directors for 20 of the country’s most important state museums, ranging from household names such as the Uffizi (Florence), the Accademia (Venice) and the Galleria Borghese (Rome) to less well-known institutions such as the Palazzo Reale (Genoa) and the Galleria Estense (Modena). The successful candidates were meant to be announced in July but have been delayed until the end of August.

The culture ministry looks abroad
For the first time ever, foreign candidates have been invited to apply, and fluency in business management, rather than Italian, is the main requirement. What’s more, museums are to have a great deal more autonomy, including the power to fundraise independently and invest the proceeds back into the institution. Officially there have been 1,200 Italian applications and 80 foreign ones (although some candidates may have applied for multiple positions).

Read more (may involve paywall)

See also: Ermanno Rivetti, ‘Italian ministry of culture announces shortlist of directors for Italy’s top state museums – Many prominent foreign museum professionals have made the cut’, The Art Newspaper, 3 July 2015