Dario Franceschini

Italy’s Middle-Left Minister of Cultural Heritage Ousted After Recent Elections

Italy’s middle-left minister of cultural heritage, Dario Franceschini, lost his parliamentary seat to Maura Tomasi, who belongs to the center-right Eurosceptic Northern League—a brashly anti-immigrant party that does not support the European Union—reports Kate Brown of Artnet. Right-wing populist groups made huge gains in the country after the general election on March 4.

One of Franceschini’s most important goals as culture minister was to transform several of Italy’s struggling museums into more global and modern institutions. Last summer, he hired twenty new museum directors through a major recruitment campaign started two years earlier. However, five of the appointments—made up of four non-native Italians and one Austrian—were suddenly suspended, as an Italian regional court ruled that the hiring process for these particular individuals was not transparent enough. (Franceschini managed to bring in German art historian Eike Schmidt to direct the Uffizi Gallery in 2015, but Schmidt announced in February that he would be leaving the Uffizi to head Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum in 2019.) The court also questioned why the ministry decided to bring in “foreigners” for the positions; historically, such jobs went to Italian citizens.