National Gallery Director Nods Towards Europe on Brexit Question

What could be in impact of Brexit on arts institutions in the UK?

National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi.
Photo: Sergio Enriquez-Nistal, Courtesy The National Gallery.
National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi.Photo: Sergio Enriquez-Nistal, Courtesy The National Gallery.

National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi.
Photo: Sergio Enriquez-Nistal, Courtesy The National Gallery.

New National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi has hinted at his position in the upcoming UK Referendum on EU membership, or “Brexit,” as it has become “affectionately” known.

“We are very bound up with Europe because of the shows we do and the way we work. We work very closely with our counterparts in France, Spain, Italy, Germany,” he told the Guardian while discussing his new post. “That will continue I am sure, whatever happens […] I can’t deny that I am strongly European. It’s in my genes and I feel very passionate about Europe and what we share together. The gallery is exactly about that. We are looking for connections, not highlighting differences. There is a lot that is common to all of us.”

Finaldi grew up in London with an Italian father and British-Polish mother, so when he says Europe is in his genes, he is speaking quite literally. Educated between the UK and Italy, Finaldi decided he wanted to work in the arts after studying History of Art at school and spending time in front of the Girl at a Window by Rembrandt in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

“I was brought up in what was essentially an Italian home,” he says. “We spoke Italian, ate Italian, supported Italy in the World Cup. We lived in Britain and we felt part of both worlds.”

It is a story quite typical of the capital. Finaldi came to the National Gallery from a position as deputy director at the world famous Prado Museum in Madrid. He replaced Nicholas Penny who succeeded the much-loved Neil MacGregor who, in turn, went on to run the British Museum with great success.

As the UK braces itself for what will be a game-changing vote on June 23, whichever way it goes, those in the famously international art world must be wondering what the fall out will be.


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