Manuel Borja-Villel resigns as director of the Reina Sofia Museum

Manuel Borja-Villel abandona o cargo de diretor do Museu Reina Sofia

Manuel Borja-Villel, who has headed the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid for the last 15 years, will not be re-elected to the post this spring. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, he will step down in January. Borja-Villel vehemently denied accusations, published in the right-wing newspaper ABC, that his departure was linked to alleged irregularities in two of the three full extensions of his contract, which occurred in 2013 and 2018 respectively. The historian claims that both extensions were granted during the Popular Party government with the endorsement of the then current Ministers of Culture after favorable opinions from the Public Ministry. Reina Sofía also refuted the accusations of mismanagement and denounced the ABC – which also accused Borja-Villel of “imposing a monolithic ideological discourse” aligned with “the most radical militants of the Ibero-American left” – of mounting a smear campaign against the museum and its outgoing director. In emails to Artfourm, both Borja-Villel and a Reina Sofía representative denied that he indicated he would remain in office when the contest was announced last November, as reported by El País.

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Borja-Villel's leadership was polarizing, with critics voicing complaints about the museum's focus on conceptual art, its international (rather than Spanish) collection, and its wall labels and signage intended to educate the public about the works on display. . Its supporters point to its promotion of modern and contemporary Spanish artists, famous and unknown, and to the elevation of Latin American art, as well as to its politically intelligent curation and its successful efforts to situate the Reina Sofía as an internationally renowned contemporary art institution. Borja-Villel notably staged a complete renovation of the museum's collection in 2021. After his departure, Borja-Villel will focus on co-curating the 2023 Bienal de São Paulo, which opens in September.

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