One appointment and two resignations on the great scene of Pompeii. On Saturday 20 February, the Minister of Culture (name decided by Mario Draghi) Dario Franceschini announced the new director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii after the seven dense years of Massimo Osanna, now director general of the Museums: the current manager of the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, born in 1981, a new Italian citizen since 2020 but born in Weingarten, Germany, married and father of two children: he studied classical archeology, prehistory and Greek philology in Berlin, Rome and Bonn. he was the youngest of the directors appointed with the first international public procedure in 2015. And now the person in charge of the immense machine in Pompeii is barely forty years old, a record.
So far the appointment. And here is the resignation, in controversy with Franceschini’s decision. Two of the four members of the Park’s Scientific Council have resigned: Irene Bragantini, archaeologist, 73, for years an authoritative column in the Faculty of Archeology in the East of Naples and famous for his excavations in the eastern Egyptian desert, and Stefano De Caro, well-known name in the world of archeology, 70 years old, former director of the Excavations Office in Pompeii between 1978 and 1984, former director general for the archaeological heritage of the ministry. Immediate and irrevocable resignation presented with deep disappointment to the general manager Massimo Osanna: We believe that the minimum conditions for collaborating with his successor do not exist. Point.
The reasons? Irene Bragantini prefers silence. De Caro very clear: With colleague Bragantini we learned with bewilderment of the appointment. An unusual decision. His curriculum does not have the necessary depth in the field of Roman building and painting restoration as one would expect from a director of Pompeii. was for less than a year in the technical secretariat of Pompeii and then went to Paestum, which has a different profile. It is unlikely that he has the sufficient experience to decide, manage and direct conservation and above all restorations, where it is very easy to make mistakes but commit millions and millions. The commission will have evaluated the curriculum but we do not know the criteria. We prefer to take a step back rather than open a chapter of controversy.
Massimo Osanna, in the reply, hints at a possible generational conflict between the forty-year-old new director and the two resigning: The fact that Zuchtriegel is just forty years old I don’t think can be a reason for not considering him up to par. Indeed, I believe it is a value and a great sign of openness to the new generations. I don’t understand the controversy. Zuchtriegel has an excellent scientific curriculum, in Paestum he did very well and in Pompeii he will ensure a management of the site in full continuity with what I have done in recent years for the great project.
Franceschini very convinced of the designation: Gabriel Zuchtriegel in recent years has changed Paestum with the increase in visitors and the reopening of many places. The budget has grown a lot and Paestum has also become a model of great change. Today his results are available to Pompeii.
The minister chose in a final three arrived after the examination of 44 candidates, of which 10 foreigners: the other two were Renata Picone, professor of Restoration at the Federico II University of Naples, and Francesco Sirano, director of the archaeological park of Herculaneum since 2017. The examining commission was chaired by the president emeritus of the Constitutional Court and new Minister of Justice, Marta Cartabia (the works were already completed before the launch of the Draghi government).
Zuchtriegel now looks to the future: top priority for maintenance (never let your guard down, says Osanna’s slogan, which closes proudly claiming seven years of commitment and success), he knows new excavations in the 20 hectares yet to be discovered but they will be done when necessary, they are not the priority, we have a lot material to study on. Then Osanna and Zuchtriegel announce drones and sensors to field a large preventive maintenance project; a digital library to immediately share research according to a model of public archeology; the relaunch of the so-called minor sites such as Stabia, Oplontis, Boscoreale; the redevelopment of the surrounding areas and the bet on sustainable tourism, rethinking hospitality in view of post-Covid.
With the appointment of Zuchtriegel, Pompeii also has a holder who comes from abroad with the international competitions wanted by Franceschini in 2015. The English James Bradburne in Brera, the German Eike Schmidt at the Uffizi, the French Sylvain Bellenger at the Museum and the Royal Wood of the Capodimonte Palace were reconfirmed for another term in October 2019 . The German Cecilie Hollberg returned to direct the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence in January 2020 after the suppression of the direction decided by the former minister Alberto Bonisoli. Two directors left in 2019: the Austrians Peter Aufreiter, in Urbino, and Peter Assman, in Mantua.
February 20, 2021 (change February 20, 2021 | 20:54)