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Eike Schmidt to lead Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum

1 September 2017

Eike Schmidt is to become the director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, in autumn 2019. The German art historian has been director of the Uffizi in Florence since November 2015, when he was among the first foreign directors appointed by the Italian culture ministry as part of a programme to reform the Italian museum system. Schmidt will replace Sabine Haag, who has been at the helm of the Kunsthistorisches Museum since 2009. The news was announced this morning by the Austrian culture minister Thomas Drozda at a press conference in Vienna, at which Schmidt stressed the need for the KHM to embrace digital opportunities to appeal to a wider international audience.

Schmidt’s contract at the Viennese museum will initially be for five years. At the Uffizi, he has gained a reputation for bold modernisation: renovating and redisplaying major galleries (including those dedicated to Botticelli), reorganising the curatorial structure, introducing a new pricing system for museum tickets, and expanding the scope of the exhibition programme at both the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti.

The KHM will present its own extensive challenges: its director is responsible for multiple museums and collections, including those of the Weltmuseum and Imperial Treasury, housed in different buildings in central Vienna. The Austrian media reports that 15 candidates applied for the position, among them 10 Austrians and five foreign candidates.

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Recommended reading | In the New Yorker, Louis Menand visits MoMA’s ‘Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends’ and is transfixed by the artist’s White Paintings. In the Art Newspaper, Martin Bailey speaks to British Museum director Hartwig Fischer about his plans for a ‘radical’ redisplay of the institution’s collection. ‘We cannot tell the story of world cultures solely from a European point of view’, he says. ‘[…] We have to say where the objects came from and how they got here.’ And in the FT, Simon Schama talks to Rachel Whiteread about her upcoming show at Tate Britain show.