The National Gallery in London announced today that Gabriele Finaldi, the 49-year-old Old Masters art historian, will be the museum’s new director. The appointment confirms a month and a half of rumors that Finaldi would be selected as the successor to Nicholas Penny, who announced that he would retire last summer.
In August, Finaldi will leave his position as deputy director of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, where he has contributed greatly to the museum over the past 13 years. Finaldi oversaw a rehanging of the Prado’s collection as well as the openings of an extension in 2007 and a museum research center in 2008.
At the National Gallery, where he previously served as the museum’s curator of Italian and Spanish painting from 1992 to 2002, Finaldi is said to be well-liked. The difficulty will be maintaining that reputation at a tenuous moment in the museum’s history. Since late January, the front-of-the-house staff has been mounting strikes in response to the museum’s decision to outsource their jobs.
In a statement, Finaldi, who previously curated such National Gallery shows as “Spanish Still Life from Velazquez to Goya” and “Orazio Gentileschi at the Court of Charles I,” spoke briefly about his plans for the museum.
“I feel deeply honored to take on the directorship of the National Gallery after Nicholas Penny,” Finaldi said. “This is a world-class collection in a world-class city and I eagerly look forward to working with the trustees and the staff to strengthen the gallery’s bond with the public and its international standing. I also look forward to developing an exciting exhibition program and the gallery’s research and educational activities.”