Recently naturalized, Eike Schmidt is relocating from Florence to Naples, coinciding with the Italian government's announcement of a series of new appointments, all of whom hold Italian passports. Italy's Ministry of Culture has unveiled the highly anticipated leadership changes for ten of its key museums, including the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. Meloni's far-right government has been explicit in its commitment to favor native candidates, aiming to reverse the appointment trend of foreign directors in Italian museums set by the previous left-leaning government.
In a candid statement last August, the ministry's outspoken undersecretary, Vittorio Sgarbi, straightforwardly expressed the government's approach: "We arrived, they leave. Why do I have to put a foreign director at the Uffizi? Have you ever seen a foreigner go to the Louvre?" Despite claiming later that he was joking, Sgarbi's words underscore the government's stance.
Although the selection of Eike Schmidt, the German-born director of the Uffizi since 2015, might have initially appeared as an exception, his recent Italian citizenship acquisition clarifies his status. Schmidt is set to lead the Capodimonte museum in Naples, dispelling rumors that he might run for mayor of Florence in the upcoming election. He will succeed the previous French director, Sylvain Bellenger, who held the position since 2015.
Simone Verde will assume the role vacated by Schmidt at the Uffizi, transferring from the Pilotta Monumental Complex in Parma. Renata Cristina Mazzantini, the current curator of the Quirinale Contemporaneo project, will take charge of Italy's National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.
In another change, Angelo Crespi, president of the MAGA museum of modern and contemporary art in northern Italy, will now lead the Pinacoteca di Brera, replacing the former British-Canadian director James Bradburne. The complete list of appointments is available on the ministry's website, with each new director being offered a four-year term, renewable once.
Reflecting a shift from the 2015 policy, where the then-culture minister Dario Franceschini actively encouraged foreign candidates for top leadership roles, the ministry has introduced a new rule this year. This rule mandates that any candidate applying for leadership roles at Italian museums must possess proficiency in the Italian language.