The longtime head of a Polish art museum has been harshly sacked by the country’s right-wing government
The longtime leader of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland, has been unceremoniously ousted from his post, marking the latest in a series of recent high-profile departures from museums imposed by the country’s right-wing government.
Jarosław Suchan, who has headed the museum since 2006, has developed a reputation for promoting cutting-edge art and building institutional relationships with major museums abroad, effectively placing the small Polish venue on the international map of art. ‘art.
Yet the state Department for Culture and Heritage refused to renew his contract last December, instead offering him the title of acting director. For many, his dismissal was only a matter of time.
“I thought I would be informed in advance, and in the meantime it happened overnight,” Suchan told the news site. Wyborcza. “I have been living in uncertainty since the middle of last year. I’ve had it up to here.”
Suchan will be replaced by Andrzej Biernacki, a painter and supplier to a private gallery in a small town about an hour from Łódź. Biernacki comes into the role with no previous institutional leadership experience.
“I’m not going to get rid of the concept art that was acquired for the collection and is on display,” Biernacki said. “But I intend to diversify [work on] offer, introduce other stories. No one said that you should only deal with pro-environmental, gender or queer art promoted by Western cultural institutions.
Biernacki was chosen for the job this week by Jarosław Sellin, Poland’s deputy minister of culture and national heritage.
Operating under the populist Law and Justice party, the ministry has fired several museum directors in recent years, replacing them with figures aligned with the group. anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant ideals. Critics see the moves as part of a larger trend reforms of the Law and Justice party.
In 2019, Małgorzata Ludwisiak was dismissed as director of the Center for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, and in 2021, Hanna Wróblewska was dismissed as interim director of the Zachęta National Art Gallery, also in Warsaw. Wróblewska was replaced by a painter and drummer.
During his 16-year tenure at the top of the Muzeum Sztuki, Suchan established partnerships with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and the Center Pompidou in Paris. He oversaw the renovations of the museum’s M1 and M3 locations, which house the institution’s Modern Art and Old Masters collection respectively, as well as the establishment of a second branch of the museum in the Manufaktura district of Łódź.
“Replacing a director makes sense when the institution is in bad shape, but the Muzeum Sztuki has had a fairly successful run, marked by highly regarded exhibitions and strong international collaborations,” Suchan told the art diary last year, after his contract was not renewed.
“Sure, [the ministry of culture and the regional government] have the legal right to replace me [but] I don’t think it’s motivated by concern for the welfare of the institution.
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