Seven foreigners hired to revive Italian culture

Seven foreigners hired to revive Italian culture
A German art historian will take over at the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Photo: Pedro Armestre
Italy on Tuesday announced the appointment of seven foreigners to head national museums as part of moves to revive some of the hallmarks of Italian culture.

The seven – three Germans, two Austrians, a Briton and a Frenchman – are among 20 new names to oversee the institutions, some of which are among world's most popular museums but which have suffered from an out-of-date image in recent years.

They will be tasked with instituting reforms sought by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini to promote the country's exceptional art collections, including expanding opening hours, renovating the buildings and developing new products.

The culture ministry said the 10 men and 10 women include 14 art historians and four archaeologists. Of the 20 appointees, 13 are Italian.

Eike Schmidt, a 47-year-old German art historian, will take over at the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence, while another German, Cecilie Hollberg, 48, will head the city's Accademia Gallery.

France's Sylvain Bellenger, 60, an art historian, is to take charge of the vast Capodimonte Museum in Naples, and German Gabriel Zuchtreigel, a 34-year-old archaeologist, will oversee the Paestum archaeological site near the city.

The prestigious Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan will be headed by a 59-year-old Briton, James Bradburne.

Austrian Peter Aufreiter, 40, will take over the National Gallery of the Marches in Urbino, while his compatriot Peter Assman, 61, will be in charge of the Ducal Palace in Mantua.

With these 20 appointments “the organization of Italian museums will turn a page and recover from decades of delay,” said Franceschini.

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