The curator and author Manuel Segade has been appointed director of Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía museum, the national museum of 20th-century art in Spain. He replaces Manuel Borja-Villel who abruptly resigned in January after more than 15 years in post.
Segade’s appointment was announced by the Spanish Ministry of Culture which says in a statement that he was “the candidate that obtained the highest score during the selection process”.
Segade is the director of the Dos de Mayo Art Center Museum (Móstoles), a contemporary arts centre in Madrid, and has a degree in art history from the University of Santiago de Compostela.
He was also programming coordinator for the Metronóm space at the Rafael Tous d'Art Contemporani Foundation in Barcelona and chief curator of the Galician Center for Contemporary Art (Santiago de Compostela). He curated the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, presenting works by the artist Jordi Colomer.
Borja-Villel was appointed in January 2008 and oversaw more than 200 temporary exhibitions in the museum, home to Picasso's 1937 painting Guernica. Earlier this year an open letter signed by more than 1,900 art world figures claimed that a "cultural war" orchestrated by Spain’s “extreme right” contributed to the resignation of Borja-Villel.
“A ‘cultural war,’ surreptitiously unleashed by the outbreak of the extreme right in the Spanish political and media landscape,” targeted the museum’s leadership, the open letter stated. “These attacks are part of a defamatory campaign directed at the model the museum represents.”
Borja-Villel featured in a series of articles in Spain's national media, notably in the conservative-leaning outlet ABC, which alleged that the Reina Sofía had repeatedly violated its own internal rules when it renewed Borja-Villel’s employment contract.The museum denied these accusations.
Meanwhile, another new director appointment has been announced in controversial circumstances. Sook-Kyung Lee, senior curator of international art at Tate Modern in London, has been named new director of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, UK.
She replaces Alistair Hudson who was allegedly asked to leave his role at the Whitworth in February last year after the gallery hosted an exhibition of work by the investigative agency Forensic Architecture, titled Cloud Studies, held in 2021.
Controversy centred around a pro-Palestinian statement contained within the exhibition under the title “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine”. The furore prompted widespread expressions of support for Hudson from colleagues, artists and museum directors around the world. Last year, Hudson was appointed as the new artistic-scientific chairman of Zentrums für Kunst und Medien (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany.
In 2021 Sook-Kyung Lee was appointed artistic director of South Korea’s 14th Gwangju Biennale, which opened in April. At Tate Modern, she curated numerous exhibitions and displays including Richard Bell: Embassy (2023), A Year in Art: Australia 1992 (2021-23), and Nam June Paik (2019-20).
“Lee played an invaluable role in shaping Tate's international art collection strategy by leading such initiatives as Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee and the co-acquisition programme with Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, in partnership with the Qantas Foundation,” says a statement from Manchester University which runs the Whitworth.