Lazio’s TAR strikes down five museum director appointments

A confusing selection process and ineligibility of some candidates cited

Editorial Staff
May 25, 2017 - 15:16

Change may be in the air for some of the twenty museum directors appointed in 2015 to lead Italy’s top museums. Lazio’s Regional Administrative Tribunal, abbreviated as TAR, has struck down the appointments of five of these directors, citing an unclear selection process and the fact that foreign directors did not qualify for candidacy according to a 2001 law.


Dario Franceschini, Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, has spoken out against the court’s decision. “We are going to appeal immediately to the Consiglio di Stato ,” he told Il Sole 24 Ore. “I’m worried about how Italy looks to the world and for the practical consequences, as some museums are effectively without directors now.”


The appeal was brought forth on claims that several aspects of the selection process were muddled and lacked transparency, including the introduction of a vague division system for qualified candidates well after the criteria for assigning points were established and the “closed door” oral phase of the selection process. Furthermore, the controversial choice to open the concorso to foreign applicants is once again in the spotlight, as those behind the appeal are insisting that foreign candidates were not eligible according to a 2001 law that limits the number of non-Italians at the head of the country’s museums, something that was not sufficiently addressed in the 2015 call for applicants.


Considering this reshuffling of management resulted in an astonishing seven foreigners being awarded directorship, unprecedented in Italy’s history, the TAR’s decision is a blow to Franceschini’s vision of internationalization in the cultural heritage sector. Currently, only two of the seven foreign directors have been affected by the move: Gabriel Zuchtriegel at the Parco Archeologico di Paestum and Peter Assmann at the Ducal Palace Museum in Mantua, though fears have arisen regarding the remaining five, which includes Eike Schmidt at the Uffizi Galleries and Cecilie Hollberg at the Accademia Gallery. For now, the directors have chosen to move forward in their daily activities and perform the job they were hired to do, which, according to Franceschini, was done in full accordance with EU laws.


Editorial Update, June 21, 2017, 5.19pm:

The Consiglio di Stato has suspended the May 25 ruling, allowing the ousted directors to return to work. A final decision on the ruling is expected to be made on October 26. 

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