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Beatrix Ruf.
Beatrix Ruf.

Stedelijk Museum and Former Director Beatrix Ruf Issue Statement Agreeing to “Leave the Past Behind”

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and its former director Beatrix Ruf released a statement today in which they announced that they have “agreed to leave the past” behind them. The embattled ex-leader of the institution came under fire in October 2017 after reports of conflicts of interest began circulating in the Dutch media. Journalists raised questions about the conditions of several donations made to the museum and about Ruf’s outside income. Ruf eventually stepped down over what she described as a “misunderstanding” in order to protect the reputation of the institution.

Her departure sparked protests from the artistic community and prompted the Municipality of Amsterdam to hire an independent legal team to investigate the management of the museum. It later issued a 120-page report that declared Ruf was “wrongly accused.” The document read: “Ruf has dedicated herself with heart and soul to the museum. The persons we have questioned about it have, without exception, stated that she spent considerably more hours on her work for the museum than the agreed thirty-six hours a week.”

Since the conclusion of the investigation, members of the museum’s supervisory board resigned en masse. The Stedelijk tapped Truze Lodder to chair the board in August 2018. At the time, Stedelijk interim director Jan Willem Sieburgh said: “By selecting Ms. Lodder, the Municipal Executive emphasizes a course of action that focuses on decisiveness, experience, and stability. Her appointment marks a new phase for the museum.”

In addition to announcing that they would let bygones be bygones, the Stedelijk revealed that, despite previous reports that Ruf would be reinstated, she would not return to helm the museum. She “may, however, be invited to be involved in a specific exhibition or in other museum projects, under the responsibility of a future, as yet unappointed, artistic director.”

In response, Ruf said that she would be happy to work with the museum in the future: “My time as a director was one of the most rewarding chapters of my life and now, with this exoneration, it can become a happy memory. I am confident that the Stedelijk has a bright future ahead of it. And, if asked to do so, as former director I would of course be more than happy to make a small contribution to that every now and then.”