Council of State suspends sentence on super-museums

Dario Franceschini

NAPLES – The five suspended super-museum directors can breathe a sigh of relief as the Council of State suspended the sentence ruled by the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR), in May that forced five super-museum directors to step down. 

 After raging over the ruling, Dario Franceshini, Minister of Culture Heritage, swore to bring the fight to the Council of State in appeal. 

 Assuring that every aspect of the selection process was conducted according to the law, Franceschini’s infuriated reaction to the May 24 sentence was prompt.

 “We are going to file for appeal in Council of State immediately,” he thundered. “I’m seriously worried about the way Italy is going to look in the eyes of the world and for the practical consequences this will cause because, as of today, several museums no longer have a director.” 

 And so he did. 

 While the president of the sixth section of the Council of State Luigi Maruotti rejected the Cultural Heritage Minister’s request to freeze the two TAR sentences blocking the museum nominations with two monocratic decrees just a week later, he set the closed council member session discussion for June 15 that decided, in turn, to suspend the TAR ruling. 

 The press release from Palazzo Spada reads: “considering the lack of prejudice for the plaintiffs who were victorious in the first degree and in possession of positions they continue to hold, the Council of State has called for a precautionary measure that lets them return to their functions while awaiting the definitive verdict.” 

 The Council of State has now set the public hearing later this year on October 26. On that date, with open doors, the court will definitively discuss the legitimacy of the nominations.

 In the meantime, it’s back to work for the museum managers. 

 Apparently, after short-listing candidates according to titles and merit, the criteria of interview evaluation has been put into discussion. The judges have questioned both the process in the conduction of behind closed-door interviews and in the participation of foreigners for the aspired positions. The administrative court has ruled that there were not the right conditions to extend the public job advertisement and include international candidates. 

 As the dual between magistrates and the government rages on, PD Prime Minister at the time, Matteo Renzi, was equally quick to defend his government’s 2015 reform deemed as revolutionary by many. 

 "The fact that TAR Lazio annuls our decision merits institutional respect for the administrative justice system, yet it once again confirms that we can no longer be a Republic founded on ‘finding the needle in the hay stack’ and on petitions,” he wrote on Facebook after hearing the administrative tribunal verdict. 

 “We have not made a mistake in trying to change museums; we have made a mistake because we have tried to change the TAR system,” he added. 

 Deposited by TAR Lazio, the administrative sentence involves 5 museum directors: Estense Gallery of Modena (director: Martina Bagnoli), (MarTa) National Archaeological Museum of Taranto (Eva Degl’Innocenti), National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria (Carmelo Malacrino), (MANN)National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Paolo Giulierini), Palazzo Ducale of Mantova (Peter Assmann). 

 Those unaffected by last month’s TAR Lazio ruling are: The Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt as is Cecile Holberg of the Accademia Gallery of Florence. Tar Lazio rejected the case against them and their professional position due to the fact that the plaintiff “could not demonstrate the illegitimacy of their omission.” 

 The suspension led to euphoric reaction by the directors involved. “I’m incredibly happy to be returning to work at the service of Mibact, at MANN of Naples". Once again occupying her position at MarTa di Taranto, Eva Degli Innocenti, thanks the southern city that “has stayed closely by my side; it has shown they believe in our project by highly supporting the museum. For me, this has been the greatest victory.” She goes on to say: “ we are forging ahead now and we will see how the question develops. I really do hope that we can go on working, especially in defence of public service which I firmly believe.”