Contemporary art Poland

National Museum in Warsaw director under fire from within

The majority of staff, supported by all the art curators and heads of conservation, are urging Piotr Piotrowski to resign

Blue Noses, An Epic of Clemency, on show in Warsaw

The majority of the employees of the National Museum in Warsaw have jointly written a letter to the director of the museum, Piotr Piotrowski, urging him to resign. The protest is supported by the heads of conservation and education as well as the curators of all the museum’s art departments.

The main points of contention are Piotrowski’s exhibition programme, which is seen as too contemporary, and his restructuring proposals, which include redundancies. The staff accuse Piotrowski of being authoritarian and unwilling to listen to their grievances. Piotrowski, who has only been in office for nine months, has maintained that although unpopular, restructuring is necessary to elevate the museum to the best European standards.

The protest coincides with the opening of the museum’s controversial “Ars Homo Erotica” exhibition, a survey of homoerotic art from antiquity to the present. In a country with a strong Roman Catholic tradition, the exhibition has attracted considerable media attention.

According to Professor Antoni Ziemba, the head of the National Museum’s curatorial board and the main signatory of the letter, the timing is coincidental and not connected to the content of the show. He maintains that the opening of “Ars Homo Erotica” presented an opportunity for employees to present their complaints to the international board of trustees whose members have flown in for the event.

Since Piotrowski has declined to voluntarily resign, the board of trustees, headed by Jack Lohman, director of the Museum of London, will make the final decision on his future.

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