Lazio court rejects appointments of five museum directors

Administrative court rules procedures irregular.

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini has been left "speechless" after the Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR) has ruled that the appointment procedures for five directors of Italy's museums were irregular, including those of foreign-born directors.

According to the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, which specialises in business and economics, two of the unsuccessful Italian candidates lodged cases with the administrative court on the grounds that the interview procedure was not transparent enough.

The Lazio TAR also appears to have ruled that the particulars for advertising the positions did not specifically include the admissibility of foreign candidates and that therefore they should not have been included.

The two Italian candidates were applying for positions in Modena, Mantova, Naples, Taranto and Reggio Calabria. Two foreign-born directors have been caught in the ruling, one in Mantova (Peter Assmann) and one at Paestum (Gabriel Zuchtriegel). However it appears that the procedure for notifying Zuchtriegel of the TAR ruling was incorrect therefore he is still technically speaking in charge.

The minister of culture, Dario Franceschini, who appeared visibly angry on television, has said that the ministry will appeal the ruling to the Consiglio di Stato. Meanwhile the assistant directors will take over the day-to-day running of the institutions.

The ruling undermines the reforms ushered in two years ago by Franceschini whose restructuring plan gave full managerial and financial autonomy first to a batch of 20 and then to another 12 of Italy's most important museums and heritage sites, to be run by the best qualified directors from either Italy or abroad.

It is not clear whether the appointment procedure for previously selected foreign-born directors would now be held up to scrutiny.

Two years ago seven foreigners were appointed to top Italian museums, including the Uffizi in Florence and the Brera in Milan.