Two Alarming Cases of Bad Practices by the Administration in Regional Museums in Spain

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Two Alarming Cases of Bad Practices by the Administration in Regional Museums in Spain

CIMAM's Museum Watch is very concerned with recent developments in Spain regarding two important regional contemporary art museums and their professionals.

Both cases involve a regression in terms of codes of good practice for the cultural sector. The Protocol of Best Practices in Museums and Art Centers, created in 2007 by Spanish contemporary art museums, galleries, artists and critics associations, councils, and unions, and endorsed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, has been fundamental both for the proper functioning of the protocols of governance in the country's museum institutions, as well as for the protection, care, and reputation of professionals working in museums.

We are alarmed, first, by the actions of the Ministry of Culture of the Andalusian Regional Government in relation to the dismissal of Juan Antonio Alvarez Reyes, the director of the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC). He is a renowned museum professional who was hired through a public competition more than a decade ago and who, without justification, was suddenly informed of his dismissal. Afterwards, the Regional Ministry of Culture appointed, without public competition, the collector and owner of a private foundation, Jimena Blázquez. The action of the Junta de Andalucía contravenes the Code of Best Practices; for this reason, CIMAM Museum Watch is concerned about the absence of a public competition and the institutional setback this implies, as well as the dismissal of Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes.

Second, there is a new case of interference and an attempt to discredit a highly recognized and respected professional in the museum field, Nuria Enguita. Until a few days ago, she was director of the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia. Faced with a defamation campaign waged against her by the reactionary media and the lack of support from her political representatives, Enguita decided to resign on February 21, 2024. For months, this museum, dependent on the Generalitat Valenciana, has been subject to negative campaigns from the media. This situation has been aggravated in recent weeks by the fabrication of false news in relation to the appointment of Enguita more than two years ago. This reporting calls into question her reputation and professionalism, and that of one of the members of the jury that selected her, Vicente Todolí, as well as that of the rest of the six professionals who made up the jury, who all have had outstandingly ethical and professional careers.

In this instance, the local government has not supported the director; instead, it has opened an investigation, questioning the unimpeachable trajectory of Nuria Enguita. Both Enguita and Todolí, have shared publically all relevant evidence in two statements. We hope that the Generalitat Valenciana will continue to adopt the appropriate procedures for the future of the institution.

As CIMAM Museum Watch, we strongly support the public appeal made by different associations and professionals, both to the media and political authorities, to stop the public and political interference against professionals in public-sector cultural institutions. We also emphasize the importance of following best practice protocols for both the appointment and management of museum directors. Best practices in the public sector obey the fundamental principles of a democratic society while safeguarding the reputation of public institutions and strengthening a country's cultural ecosystem as provided for in the ICOM Code of Ethics and CIMAM's Ethical Clauses of Governance.

Main Image :Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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