National Gallery to Tap Gabriele Finaldi as Director

The Museo del Prado director would replace Nicholas Penny.

The National Gallery, London Photo courtesy of Visit London.

Gabriele Finaldi, co-director of Madrid’s Museo del Prado, will soon be announced as the new director of the National Gallery in London, according to sources close to the matter who spoke to the Financial Times. The National Gallery declined to comment when contacted by artnet News

Finaldi has a distinct advantage over other possible candidates: he knows the National Gallery from within, having served as curator of Italian and Spanish painting at the London museum for 10 years, starting in 1992. Born in London in 1965 to an Italian family, Finaldi graduated with a degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

In 2002, he was hired by the Prado, where he was tasked with the organization and conservation of the museum’s vast permanent collection. But, despite having been based in Madrid for over 12 years, Finaldi never lost professional contact with London. In 2013, for example, he organized an exhibition of the Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, transforming part of the museum into a Baroque church.

The appointment would put an end to a six-month search for an adequate successor for Nicholas Penny, who announced that he was retiring last June (see Nicholas Penny Steps Down from London’s National Gallery). Penny pledged to stay at the helm of the museum, which boasts a whopping six million visitors per year, until a suitable replacement was found.

The National Gallery, London. Photo Andrew Newdigate via Flickr.

The National Gallery, London.
Photo Andrew Newdigate via Flickr.

Many were surprised at Penny’s seemingly abrupt decision to retire, after six successful years at the helm of the museum, during which he staged the National Gallery’s most successful exhibition, the blockbuster “Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan.”

If Finaldi is the eventual appointee, he will begin his tenure at a difficult time for the museum. The museum is currently facing strikes from members of its front of house team, over a new plan to privatize some of its services (see Staffing Crisis at London’s National Gallery). The public institution has also seen its governmental grant decreased 15 percent since 2011.

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