Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, who was appointed last month, had harsh words for Florence’s Uffizi Galleries, which closed its doors on Monday in recognition of All Saint’s Day, a national holiday in Italy.
Despite the fact that the celebrated museum is normally closed on Mondays, Sangiuliano said locking the doors was a “very serious” issue as thousands of culture-hungry tourists were denied access to the painting and sculpture galleries (the Giardino di Boboli remained open), German outlet Monopol reported Wednesday.
“It does not escape your intelligence that a closure of this kind, in addition to constituting a loss of income, represents damage to the image of the Uffizi Galleries and the entire national museum system,” Sangiuliano said.
Eike Schmidt, the Uffizi’s director, responded by thanking Sangiuliano for his frankness before explaining that the museum has been understaffed “for years,” a situation the culture ministry has repeatedly been asked to solve in the past but refused.
“Unfortunately, the problem of understaffing is endemic throughout virtually the entire national museum, library and archival landscape: it is now unsolvable without a sharp and decisive intervention from the centre, reversing the established practice of recent years,” Schmidt said in a statement.
Sangiuliano was appointed last month as part of a new conservative government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Earlier this year, the Uffizi was named Italy’s most visited cultural site for the first time, beating out the Colosseum in Rome, the ruins of Pompeii, and the Vatican Museums. The success is due in large part to “years of innovation under the German-born director Eike Schmidt,” according to The Guardian.