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Eike Schmidt. Photo: Dan Dennehy. Courtesy of the Uffizi.
Eike Schmidt. Photo: Dan Dennehy. Courtesy of the Uffizi.

Eike Schmidt Turns Down Top Vienna Museum Post to Lead Uffizi for Second Term

Eike Schmidt, the German art historian who heads the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, has backpedaled on his plan to move to Vienna to head the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one month before he was supposed to take the helm, the Art Newspaper reports. Schmidt, the first non-Italian director to lead the Uffizi, has decided to stay at the institution for a second term.

According to the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata, Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini said that “clarity is needed” before Schmidt’s contract can be extended. “In order to consider keeping him on . . . I need to know that this decision would not create any problems with Austria and the Austrian government.” Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg has called Schmidt’s retreat “highly unprofessional and unprecedented.” Schallenberg has asked the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s director, Sabine Haag, to remain at the institution until an interim director can be found.

Since Schmidt joined the Uffizi in 2015, he has been credited with modernizing the museum. He has overseen the revamp of major galleries, including the Botticelli rooms; created a plan to reopen the Vasari Corridor to visitors by 2021 following a $10 million renovation; worked on improving its ticketing system to help the flow of traffic—the museum has previously drawn up to ten thousand visitors a day—and organized more exhibitions on female artists.