Florence, Italy. No comment. But above all, no denial from the German Eike Schmidt when we talk about the rumors about his future. This fall he is completing his second term as head of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. With the law prohibiting him from running for a third, speculation is rife about the next stage in the career of the most emblematic, but above all media-friendly, foreign director of an Italian museum.
A career that could well become political. The municipal elections take place next year in Florence and the right, looking for a prestigious name to conquer this traditionally left-wing city, would like to present Eike Schmidt. A candidacy which would obtain the satisfaction of the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, and his Undersecretary of State, Vittorio Sgarbi. Excelling in the art of incoherence, the champions of a sovereignist restoration at the head of the major transalpine cultural institutions are not opposed to a foreigner becoming the mayor of a large Italian city. If the main person concerned refuses to make any declaration on his real intentions, he multiplies them to criticize in a more or less veiled way the management of Florence by its current councilor. “Before launching an election campaign, Eike Schmidt should leave his post as director of a public museum,” 70 intellectuals from the world of art and culture warn in an open letter.
All eyes turn to the British Museum
A world that still offers him many perspectives. First of all, in Italy. His good relations with Minister Sangiuliano would allow him to replace the Frenchman Sylvain Bellenger as director of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. An offer he declined. His desire to stay in Florence could be fulfilled by taking the position next year from his compatriot Cecilie Hollberg who directs the Accademia Gallery, soon to be united with the Bargello Museum and the Medici Chapels. Nothing too exciting, however, for the ambitious Eike Schmidt who could then turn his sights abroad. In 2019, his arrival as director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna was made official before he gave up taking up his position, at the last moment, to remain at the Uffizi Gallery. This time, it is another compatriot that he could replace. Hartwig Fisher, director of the British Museum, was forced to resign this summer after revelations about a series of thefts from his collections. The famous museum would be interested in Eike Schmidt to get out of the turmoil. A position whose prestige would match his ambitions.
The recruitment of Italian directors is progressing
The names of those who will lead the 44 autonomous Italian museums will soon be announced. The call for applications was published on June 16 and closed on July 14. The files are currently being examined by a commission of five experts. Up to ten candidates per museum will be selected and then interviewed in October. This month will launch the recruitment of directors of the sixteen museums which gain autonomy, including the Medici villas in Tuscany and the Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola. The choices will be made official by mid-November.