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Castelli H1 1920 x 116
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Italy's new culture minister in row with Uffizi director

Florence landmark says closure due to staff shortage.

Italy's new culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano has criticised the Uffizi Galleries for staying closed on Monday 31 October in the middle of what was a four-day holiday for many Italians.

In a strongly-worded letter to Uffizi director Eike Schmidt, published by the Italian media, the minister said it was "very serious" to keep the world-famous galleries shut during the "ponte" or long weekend for All Saints' Day, a public holiday in Italy on 1 November.

Sangiuliano said the closure on Monday prevented "thousands of visitors from being able to visit", asking the director why the Uffizi did not modify its opening times in advance, like other state museums, to "avoid inconvenience to visitors and tourists."

The Uffizi is open Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year but is normally closed on Mondays.

"It is not beyond your intelligence that a closure of this type, in addition to constituting a loss of income, represents a damage to the image of the Uffizi Galleries and the entire national museum system", the minister thundered.

In reply Schmidt said he "too was scandalised" by the closure, which he blamed on staff shortages, describing it as "an endemic problem that affects practically the entire national museum, library and archive network".

Schmidt said he has raised the matter with the culture ministry for years however his appeals for help in easing staff shortages by increasing recruitment had not been met with concrete results.

The director stressed that moving the normal closing day to suit the All Saints' holiday weekend was "impractical" for a "complex machine" like the Uffizi, and assured the minister that he would prepare a report.

Dario Nardella, the centre-left mayor of Florence, also intervened: "I spoke to the minister and I share his disappointment, I will meet him in November and we will take stock", adding that he will ask Sangiuliano for "a particular commitment on the staff of state museums".

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