A Petition Calls for the Reinstatement of the Borghese Gallery Director Suspended for Going to the Gym Too Much

Anna Coliva stands accused of absenteeism and defrauding the public purse over "unauthorized" gym visits during working hours.

Anna Coliva, Director of Galleria Borghese. Courtesy Galleria Borghese.

Anna Coliva should be reinstated as director of Galleria Borghese—that is, if a new online petition has its way.

A campaign calling for the immediate reinstatement of the embattled director has launched just days after she was suspended without pay for allegedly visiting the gym during working hours without authorization, among other charges. As of press time, the petition had garnered over 1,100 signatures.

The Italian Ministry of Culture suspended Coliva and opened an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip accusing her of dedicating more time to her workouts than her job, according to the Art NewspaperShe was reportedly absent from the museum for 41 hours over 12 days during working hours.

In a shocking turn, a judge in Rome ruled that Coliva must now stand trial and face charges of absenteeism and defrauding the public purse. The director denies wrongdoing, arguing that her overtime makes up for time spent away from the desk—which she insists is usually for work-related reasons. Coliva’s lawyer Alessandro Diddi told TAN that he is “astonished” at the judge’s decision to send the case to trial.

The Ministry of Culture has come under intense criticism from the international art community for suspending the director only weeks after the close of Borghese’s blockbuster Bernini show, which brought in €2.5 million ($3 million) for the museum. At a time when many Italian institutions are struggling, the Borghese has thrived under Coliva’s leadership, her supporters say.

“We ask the Italian Minister of Culture and the department to reconsider these allegations,” the petition reads. Over the course of her 12-year tenure, it points out, Coliva “raised funds of over €12 million, amongst many other monetary and non-monetary achievements made on behalf of the Italian community.”

In light of that success, the statement calls for “the immediate revocation” of the suspension, pending the outcome of the criminal trial. Doing so, it argues, is necessary to safeguard the Galleria Borghese as “a tourist landmark of Italian art and culture.”

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