Eike Schmidt, a German art historian currently working at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, has been named director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Schmidt will be the first non-Italian director of the Uffizi, replacing Antonio Natali.
Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini announced the news today, along with that of the nineteen other new directors appointed to Italy’s top twenty museums through an international competition. Seven appointees, including Schmidt, are foreigners.
The directors were chosen in a competition designed to revamp Italy’s museum system, including its outdated response to the challenges of modern tourism. Schmidt told the New York Times that modern technology will help to reduce the chances that “your visit doesn’t start standing in line for two or three hours, or working your elbows in galleries so you can get to a sculpture.”
The twenty newcomers will be granted more authority over budgets, management, and fundraising, representing a break from the Culture Ministry’s traditional control over state cultural institutions. James Bradburne, the former director of Milan’s Palazzo Strozzi now tapped to head the city’s Brera Gallery, told the Times, “[It’s] a way of unlocking the value of a museum, though it’s still unclear where the edges of that autonomy are.”
Even though the museums will be independent, Franceschini encourages their directors to “reason as a team, and work within our museum system because that is Italy’s strength,” according to an interview with the Times.