Eike Schmidt goes to the KHM in Vienna

September 11 2017

Image of Eike Schmidt goes to the KHM in Vienna

Picture: via Apollo

Surprising news that Eike Schmidt, who joined the Uffizi as director in late 2015 is to become the new director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. He will take up his new post in 2019. Reports Apollo:

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.

I hope that in the next two years Schmidt can complete some of his reforms at the Uffizi. When I visited earlier this year, it was probably the worst experience of a major gallery I have had as a visitor. Getting in is of course the hard part, and while I appreciate that there is great demand for tickets, the way entry is managed does not exactly help. I was given two tickets, both of which had to be scanned and collected by different people, each time creating bottlenecks in the queue to get in. And then, just when you thought you had cleared all the hurdles, and have climbed the stairs to the main galleries, you then have to have your ticket checked again! Is it a massive job creation scheme?

The collection is of course worth the wait. But don't bet on seeing anything other than Italian art. I asked to see the Flemish galleries, and was told that these are only sometimes open on Tuesday. My advice is to go to the Palazzo Pitti instead.

Still, there was a curious and welcome contrast when we went to film in the Uffizi for Britain's Lost Masterpieces. The staff could not have been more helpful, welcoming and relaxed about us filming the paintings. Much of the time filming in galleries involves 'computer says no' over zealousness from staff, not to mention eye-watering fees. British galleries are some of the worst offenders.

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