This past August, Cecilie Hollberg, the director of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, became the subject of controversy—her contract, which had originally been scheduled to end in mid-November, was cut short, and she left the museum three months early. But now, according to a report by the German-language publication Monopol, she will return to the top post at the museum, which houses Michelangelo’s David and is one of Florence’s top tourist destinations.
When Hollberg abruptly departed the Galleria dell’Accademia in August, some saw it as a sign of a growing nationalist sentiment in Italy, where foreign museum directors were being replaced with Italians. It was also seen as an attempt by Alberto Bonisoli, the right-wing Italian culture minister at the time, to seize control of the museum, which he planned to merge with the Uffizi, the country’s most-visited institution. Monopol reported that current Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini has confirmed that the Uffizi and the Galleria dell’Accademia will remain two separate entities.
“[Bonisoli] did not explain to me the reason for wanting to remove autonomy from the Academy by merging it with the Uffizi,” Hollberg told the Italian publication Corriere last year. “And nobody in the ministry was able to give me an explanation on this counter-reform.” She claimed that her German nationality may have led to the change in her contract, and she added, “I am convinced that culture cannot be exploited by politics.”
Hollberg was not the only foreign director of an Italian museum who left under Bonisoli’s reign. Peter Aufreiter and Peter Assmann, both of whom hail from Austria, departed the top posts at the Ducal Palace in Mantua and the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino, respectively, for institutions in their home country.
In a release circulated Wednesday, Franceschini said that he was seeking both Italian and non-Italian candidates for directorial positions at 13 museums in the country, including the Galleria Borghese in Rome and the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna. He called the internationally minded job search “another step forward in the path of innovation and modernization of the national museum system.” Allowing museums “autonomy” and high-quality directors offered Italy’s institutions “a winning mix,” Franceschini said in the statement.