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Director of Brussel’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts resigns after staff allegations

28 April 2023

The director of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels has resigned after allegations of unprofessional behaviour and intimidation of staff. Michel Draguet joined the museum in 2005 and was seeking a fourth term in the post before 31 of the institution’s 176 employees sent a letter of complaint to the Belgian minister responsible for the federal museum, last December. The letter mentioned, among other things, ‘bad management’, a lack of ‘a clear vision’, regular threats, intimidation and harassment, while working conditions were described as ‘appalling’, with a rise in cases of exhaustion and burn-out. Draguet agreed to resign after a meeting of trade unions and the museum’s management on Monday; he will officially step down on 30 April and take up a post as a senior heritage researcher at the Belgium Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

France has released a report about the restitution of cultural property commissioned by President Macron and written by Jean-Luc Martinez, a former director of the Louvre. It outlines numerous recommendations, including Nazi-looted art, which will be discussed by the Senate on 23 May and the consideration of requests for returns by eight African countries to establish ‘a criteria of retainability’. The report comes nearly six years after Macron publicly called for the ‘return of African heritage’ during a state visit to Burkina Faso and four and a half years since the academics Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr published their report about artefacts from African countries in French museums.

The Turner Prize shortlist has been announced with Barbara Walker, Rory Pilgrim, Ghislaine Leung and Jesse Darling all vying for the prestigious award. Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the prize jury said: ‘These artists each explore the contrasts and contradictions of life, combining conceptual and political concerns with warmth, playfulness, sincerity and tenderness, and often celebrating individual identity and community strength.’ An exhibition of the shortlisted artists’ work will open at the Towner Eastbourne in East Sussex in September and the winner will be announced in December.

Karin Hindsbo has been appointed the new director of Tate Modern. Hindsbo is currently the director of the National Museum in Oslo; a post she has held since 2017. She oversaw the development of the museum, which opened in June 2022, into the largest institution in the Nordic region, housing a collection of some 400,000 objects. Hindsbo will officially join the Tate this September following the departure of Frances Morris earlier this month.