Open letter to the Polish Ministry of Culture against the dismissal of museum directors

Open letter to the Polish Ministry of Culture against the dismissal of museum directors

Lancée le
3 mai 2022
Signatures : 62Prochain objectif : 100
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Pourquoi cette pétition est importante

Lancée par Eric DE CHASSEY

On April 26, while the war is waging in Ukraine and the ordinary people of Poland are self-organizing to welcome millions of refugees fleeing from their besieged country, the government of Poland forced our esteemed colleague Jarosław Suchan from his post at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. Since 2006, Suchan had turned his museum into an international reference, building on its historical profile and situating it within an international, open, context. He was replaced, without any open consultation, with a reactionary artist and owner of a small private gallery, whose first public statement was to say that he would turn away from art “promoted by the Western cultural institutions” and stop collecting the work of international artists to focus on local ones. We know what this language means and strongly disagree with what would be a regression. This was not the first time that the government of Poland acted this way, though. In December 2021, Hanna Wróblewska, director of the “Zachęta” National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, was similarly replaced by a painter and trade union leader, whose program consists mainly in organizing regular, large, group exhibitions of national artists, “who have been overlooked for various reasons” – a return to the idea of the socialist realist All-Polish Art Exhibitions of 1950-1955. This is especially troubling as Łódź Muzeum Sztuki was in 1930 one of the very first museums of modern art in the world, established by an artist (Władysław Strzemiński), with collections based on the generosity of a network of avant-garde artists, both Polish and international, while it is “Zachęta”’s cooperation with international cultural institutions since the 1990s that has raised it to the level of a National Gallery of Art (the title it was hence given in 2003).

As museum directors, exhibition curators, artists and professionals of the art world, we have worked for decades with the Muzeum Sztuki and the “Zachęta” National Gallery of Art, as well as other leading Polish museums and art centers, or have simply witnessed with admiration their ability to foster an international dialogue that brought forth exhibitions and publications tackling global as well as local issues, and insuring the visibility of a vast number of Polish artists, who are now internationally recognized thanks to the initiatives of Polish cultural institutions. Since the end of the Communist dictatorship, this has enabled a complex history of Polish art in the XXth and XXIst centuries to happen, emphasizing the international importance of its artists and movements, heretofore under-recognized outside their native country, and the vitalization of the Polish contemporary art scene. While we acknowledge the possibility, and sometimes necessity, to change the heads of cultural institutions when they fail to achieve the professional standards for which they were hired, we are deeply concerned about the pattern of these dismissals and appointments, which consists in replacing knowledgeable and competent art historians and professionals, who have proved their ability to meet the challenges of international cooperation while renewing the local impact of the cultural institutions they lead, by figures of limited practice and reactionary views, who, speaking of diversity, flatly deny its possibility. By doing so, the government of Poland is doing to its people what Putin has been doing for Russia: crushing the vitality of its art and art history, returning to the darkest moments of its past, narrowing dramatically the possibility of entertaining a fruitful dialogue with the contemporary world for the sake of a fantasized national glory. We know, now more than ever, that nationalism, in art as in politics, is only a harbinger of war and oppression. We love Poland and its people too much to let this happen without voicing unequivocally our deep concern. We hope that the Polish Ministry of Culture will reverse its decision and organize a proper search and competition for the directors of Muzeum Sztuki and the “Zachęta” National Gallery of Art, who should be, as is the case in all democratic countries, respected art historians and curators, with a proven track in their field, and able to connect the national and local art communities and their traditions to the international scene.  


1.       Nairy Baghramian, artist, Berlin

2.       Marek Bartelik, Honorary President of AICA International

3.       Dr. Andreas Beitin, Director, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, DE

4.       Christian Bernard, Director Emeritus, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva

5.       Pr. Claire Bishop, PhD Program in Art History, CUNY Graduate Center. New York

6.       Pr. Yve-Alain Bois, Professor of Art History, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

7.       Juliana Braga de Mattos, Director of Department of Visual and Media Arts, Sesc São Paulo,  Brazil

8.       Pr. Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Theory, CUNY Graduate Center, New York

9.       Adam Budak, Director, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover

10.    Miriam Cahn, artist, Bregaglia, Switzerland

11.    Pr. Eric de Chassey, Director, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris, honorary director of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici

12.    Pr. Jean-François Chevrier, art historian, curator, Professor Emeritus, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris

13.    Michelle Cotton, Head of Artistic Programmes & Content, Mudam Luxembourg

14.    Pr. David Crowley, National College of Art and Design, Dublin

15.    Pr. Joana Cunha Leal, Subdirectora Adjunta NOVA FCSH, Directora do IHA-Art History Institute, Lisbon

16.    Cécile Debray, President, Musée national Picasso, Paris

17.    Chris Dercon, President, Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, Paris

18.    Marta Dziewańska, Curator, Kunstmuseum Bern

19.    Dr. Yilmaz Dziewior, Director, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

20.    Elena Filipovic, Director / Curator, Kunsthalle Basel

21.    Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Professor of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University, USA

22.    Antoine de Galbert, President, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, art collector

23.    Emmanuel Guigon, Director, Museu Picasso de Barcelona

24.    Edi Hila, painter, Tirana

25.    Achim Hochdörfer, Director, Museum Brandhorst, Munich

26.    Pr. Klara Kemp-Welch, Reader in 20th Century Modernism, The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London

27.    Dr. Annegret Laabs, Director, Art Museum Magdeburg

28.    Jean de Loisy, curator, former director, Beaux-Arts de Paris, former President, Palais de Tokyo, Paris

29.    Ulrich Loock, curator and art critic, former director of Kunsthalle Bern, Museum of Art Lucerne, and former deputy director of Museu de Serralves, Porto

30.    Boris Marte, CEO, ERSTE Foundation, Vienna

31.    Camille Morineau, Director, AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions), Paris

32.    Heike Munder, Director, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich

33.    Paulina Ołowska, Artist, Rabka

34.    Alfred Pacquement, Honorary Director of Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

35.    Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Director, MAXXI Arte, MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome

36.    Pr. Maria Poprzęcka, former Chair of the Board, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź

37.    Pr. Tomáš Pospiszyl, Head of the Department of Theory and History of Art, Academy of Fine Arts in Prague

38.    Rebecca H. Quaytman, artist, Brussels

39.    Pierre-Olivier Rollin, Director, BPS22, Musée d'art de la Province de Hainaut, Charleroi

40.    Kathrin Rhomberg, Artistic Director, Kontakt Collection, Vienna

41.    Dirk Snauwaert, Director/curator, WIELS Brussels

42.    Dr. Reinhard Spieler, Director, Sprengel Museum Hannover

43.    Dr. Barbara Steiner, Director and CEO, Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau

44.    Pr. Robert Storr, Professor Emeritus of Painting and Printmaking, Yale University, former Senior Curator of Painting at MoMA, New York

45.    Adam Szymczyk, Curator-at-large, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

46.    Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, UK

47.    Luc Tuymans, Visual artist, Antwerp

48.    Teresa Velázquez, Head of Exhibitions, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

49.    Lynn Zelevansky, Former Carnegie Museum of Art director, New York

50.    Dr. Nina Zimmer, Director, Kunstmuseum Bern

51.    Adam Adach, artist, Paris

52.    Paula Aisemberg, President, Trampoline, association for the French art scene, Artistic Director, Emerige, Paris

53.    Dr. Maria Alicata, art historian, Rome

54.    Madeleine Amsler, Co-Head, Fine Arts Department, Bern Academy of the Arts

55.    Dr. Agata Araszkiewicz, Laboratoire d’études de genre et de sexualité UMR LEGS CNRS/UPL Paris 8/ Paris Nanterre

56.    Dr. Mathilde Arnoux, Research Director, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris

57.    Pierre Bal-Blanc, Independent curator/essayist, Athens

58.    Fabio Balducci, artist, Paris

59.    Marie-Laure Bernadac, curator, Paris

60.    Pelagie Bgaguidi, artist, Gent

61.    Dr. Hannah Feldman, Associate Professor of Art History, Midwestern University, Chicago

62.    Giampaolo Bianconi, Curator, Museum Brandhorst, Munich

63.    Brigitte Bouvier, Director of Le Corbusier Foundation, Paris

64.    Dr. Kathleen Bühler, Chief Curator, Kunstmuseum Bern

65.    Odile Burluraux, curator, Musée d'Art moderne de Paris

66.    Connie Butler, Chief Curator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

67.    Marie Cantos, Artistic Director, L’ahah, Paris/Ris-Orangis

68.    Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Writer, Curator, Brussels

69.    Pr. Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts/New York University

70.    Marie Cool, artist, Paris

71.    Pr. Nicola Courtright, William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art, Amherst College

72.    Pr. Nuno Crespo, Director, Escola das Artes da Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto

73.    Dr. Valérie Da Costa, Assistant Professor in Art History, Université de Strasbourg

74.    Patrizia Dander, Chief Curator, Museum Brandhorst, Munich

75.    Anca Daucikova, visual artist, Prague

76.    Alexandre Devals, art dealer

77.    Anne Dressen, curator, Musée d’art moderne de Paris

78.    Anne Durufle, France

79.    Thierry de Duve, Art historian, Brussels

80.    Dr. Fabienne Eggelhöfer, Chief Curator, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern

81.    Pr. Darby English, Carl Darling Buck Professor of Art History and the College, University of Chicago

82.    Pr. Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Research Scholar at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, independent art historian and curator

83.    Emília Ferreira, Director, Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea - Museu do Chiado, Lisbon

84.    Xavier Franceschi, Director, Frac Ile-de-France, Paris

85.    Pr. Andrea Fraser, Interdisciplinary Studio, University of California Los Angeles Department of Art

86.    Agnès Geoffray, artist, Paris

87.    Fanny Gonella, Director, 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine, Metz

88.    Pr. Maria Gough​, Joseph Pulitzer Jr., Professor of Modern Art, Department of History of Art & Architecture, Harvard University

89.    Pr. David Grubbs, Professor, Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

90.    Dr. Rachel Haidu, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Rochester

91.    Caroline Hancock, curator, Aubervilliers

92.    Fanny Hauser, Independant Curator, Vienna

93.    Georgina Jackson, Director, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin

94.    Pr. Shannon Jackson, Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, University of California, Berkeley

95.    Ana Janevski, Curator, Department of Media & Performance, Museum of Modern Art, New York

96.    Pr. Amelia Jones, Robert A. Day Professor and Vice Dean of Academics and Research, Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

97.    Valérie Jouve, artist, Professor, Ecole d’Architecture Paris-La Villette

98.    Laure Kaltenbach, Chairman, CreativeTech, Paris, and curator

99.    Peter Kilchmann, owner, Gallery Peter Kilchmann, Zürich

100.Daniel Knorr, artist, Berlin

101.Dr. Daniel Koep, Head of exhibitions, Kunstmuseum Den Haag

102.Harald Krejci, Chief Curator, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Wissenschaftliche Anstalt öffentlichen Rechts, Vienna

103.Pr. Bojana Kunst, Applied Theater Studies Institute, University of Giessen

104.Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

105.Charlotte Laubard, Dean of the Visual Arts Department, HEAD-Genève

106.Elisabeth Lebovici, writer and art critic, Paris

107.Ange Leccia, artist, Paris

108.K. Lee Chichester, Lecturer, Institute of Art History, Ruhr-Universität-Bochum

109.Pr. André Lepecki, Full Professor and Chairperson, Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

110.Laurence Maynier, Director, Fondation des Artistes, Paris

111.Pr. Valérie Mavridorakis, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History, Sorbonne Université, Paris

112.Pr. Gina McDaniel Tarver, Texas State University

113.Pr. Tom McDonough, Associate Professor, Art History Department, Binghamton University

114.Pr. Lala Meredith-Vula, artist, Professor of art and photography, De Montfort University, Leicester

115.Pr. Eric Michaud, Professor of Art History, EHESS Paris

116.Anna Milone, Director, Centre culturel Jean Cocteau, Les Lilas

117.Rosalind Nashashibi, artist, London

118.Pr. France Nerlich, Director of Research, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris

119.Pr. Molly Nesbit, Mellon Chair, Art History, Vassar College

120.Viktor Neumann, independent curator, Berlin, co-curator Romanian Pavilion at the 59th La Biennale die Venezia

121.Ahmet Öğüt, Artist, Guest Professor at The Universität der Künste Berlin and Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam

122.Boris Ondreicka, Artistic Director, viennacontemporary

123.Peter Pakesch, Maria Lassnig Foundation, Vienna

124.Eleanna Papathanasiadi, curator, Athens

125.Alexandre Quoi, Chief-curator, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne

126.Olivier Renaud-Clément, O.R_C. Inc., Paris / New York

127.Dieter Roelstraete, curator, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago

128.Pr. David J. Roxburgh, Department Chair, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History, Dept. History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

129.Rasha Salti, Independent curator of art and film, Berlin Biennial 12

130.Daniel Schlier, painter, Professor, École nationale supérieur des Beaux-arts de Paris

131.Basia Sliwinska, Researcher, Institute of Art History, Universidade NOVA, Lisbon

132.Maria Stavrinaki, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History and Theory, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne

133.Bettina Steinbrügge, Directrice, Mudam Luxembourg - Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean

134.Rafal Syska, Associate Professor, Instytucie Sztuk Audiowizualnych Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków

135.Matylda Taszycka, Head of Research, AWARE: Archives of Women Artists, Research & Exhibitions, Paris

136.Djamel Tatah, artist, professor, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

137.Agnès Thurnauer, artist, Paris

138.Emmanuel Tibloux, Director, École des Arts Décoratifs (EnsAD) – Paris

139.Doria Tichit, Manager, L’ahah, Paris/Ris-Orangis

140.Yan Tomaszewski, artist

141.Christina Vegh, Director, Kunsthalle Bielefeld

142.Stephanie Weber, Curator of contemporary art, Lenbachhaus, Munich

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Signatures : 62Prochain objectif : 100
Soutenir maintenant