Uffizi’s Eike Schmidt cancels move to Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Move comes just one month before the German art historian was due to take the reins of the prestigious museum

Eike Schmidt © Zuma Press/Alamy

The German art historian Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi museum in Florence, has cancelled his planned move to Vienna just one month before he was due to succeed Sabine Haag as the director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Austrian government said.

Schmidt was named as Haag’s successor in 2017. The Austrian newspaper Die Presse speculated that the Italian government made him an offer to stay at the Uffizi, where he has introduced wide-ranging improvements. Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian foreign minister, said in a statement that Schmidt’s last-minute cancellation “is highly unprofessional and unprecedented.”

“The Eike Schmidt chapter at the Kunsthistorisches Museum is closed,” he said, adding that he aims to find a replacement as soon as possible. According to Die Presse, Schallenberg has asked Haag to stay on to lead the Kunsthistorisches Museum as interim director.

Appointed to the Uffizi in 2015, Schmidt was among several foreigners chosen to lead Italian museums in a shake-up by the centre-left culture minister, Dario Franceschini, who has recently been reappointed to the post. A spokesman for the Uffizi declined to comment, saying only that he expected a statement from the minister in the coming days.