Home Arts The Reina Sofía Museum and the Whitworth Gallery appoint new directors

The Reina Sofía Museum and the Whitworth Gallery appoint new directors

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Curator and author Manuel Segade has been appointed director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía de Madrid, 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 office.

Segade’s appointment was announced by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, which said in a statement that he was “the candidate who obtained the highest score in the selection process”.

Segade is the director of the Dos de Mayo Art Center Museum (Móstoles), a contemporary art center in Madrid, and has a degree in art history from the University of Santiago de Compostela.

He has also been coordinator of the programming of the Metronóm space of the Rafael Tous d’Art Contemporani Foundation in Barcelona and chief curator of the Galician Center of Contemporary Art (Santiago de Compostela). He curated the Spanish pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, presenting works by artist Jordi Colomer.

Borja-Villel was appointed in January 2008 and has overseen more than 200 temporary exhibitions in the museum, which houses Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica. Earlier this year, an open letter signed by more than 1,900 art world figures claim a ‘culture war’ orchestrated by Spain’s ‘far right’ contributed to Borja-Villel’s resignation.

“A ‘cultural war’, unleashed surreptitiously by the eruption of the extreme right in the Spanish political and media landscape”, was aimed at the management of the museum, indicates the open letter. “These attacks are part of a defamatory campaign directed against the model that the museum represents.”

Borja-Villel has been the subject of a series of articles in Spain’s national media, notably in the conservative-leaning newspaper ABC, which alleged that Reina Sofía had repeatedly violated her own internal rules when renewing Borja-Villel’s employment contract. The museum has denied these accusations.

Meanwhile, another new manager appointment has been announced in controversial circumstances. Sook-Kyung Lee, senior curator of international art at Tate Modern in London, has been named the new director of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, UK.

She’s replacing Alistair Hudson who was reportedly asked to quit his role at the Whitworth in February last year after the gallery hosted an exhibition of the work of the investigative agency Forensic Architecture, titled Cloud Studiesheld in 2021.

The controversy centered around a pro-Palestinian statement contained in the exhibit under the title “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine”. The furor prompted numerous shows of support for Hudson from colleagues, artists and museum directors around the world.. Last year, Hudson was named the new artistic and scientific president of the Zentrums für Kunst und Medien (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany.

In 2021, Sook-Kyung Lee was appointed artistic director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, which opened in April. At the Tate Modern, she curated numerous exhibitions and presentations, including Richard Bell: Embassy (2023), A year in the art: Australia 1992 (2021-23), and Nam June Paik (2019-20).

“Lee has been invaluable in shaping Tate’s international art collection strategy by leading initiatives such as the Asia-Pacific Acquisition Committee and the co-acquisition program with the Museum of Contemporary Art. of Australia, in partnership with the Qantas Foundation,” said a statement from the University of Manchester. who runs the Whitworth.

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