We are asking members of the international community to join us in supporting the demands of the staff of the National Art Museum of Ukraine and calling for open, transparent and competitive procedures for filling key positions in cultural and art institutions in Ukraine.
The National Art Museum of Ukraine (NAMU) is in crisis. Very soon, the Minister of Culture Mykhailo Kulyniak is supposed to announce his decision whether to entrust the Museum Council of the Ministry of Culture with recommending a candidate to fill the position of General Director of NAMU or to appoint Tatiana Mironova, who over six months as Acting Director has proved herself (both within and outside the Museum’s walls) incompetent to head Ukraine’s leading art museum.
On October 16, members of the Museum staff published an open letter addressed to the Minister of Culture, in which they refute a number of slanderous remarks and false claims published by Mironova in a recent blog post. They write, “Given [Mironova’s] glaring incompetence and unsubstantiated allegations, providing of false information, appropriation of the Museum’s past achievements, the team of the National Art Museum of Ukraine demands the immediate dismissal of Ms. Mironova from the post of Acting Director of NAMU and barring her from being appointed director of NAMU”. The following day, the museum workers began an open protest, calling for Mironova’s immediate dismissal on a sign posted in the museum’s entry hall.
Meanwhile, hundreds of art professionals and members of the Museum’s public signed letters calling for transparency in the process of selecting the new museum director.
A group of concerned citizens – members of the Ukrainian art community and the Museum’s public – have circulated a letter of support for the institution, calling on the Minister of Culture to appoint a new director with the necessary qualifications – experience working in a museum and familiarity with the specific conditions of NAMU.
For more background information on the situation in NAMU, please see our statement on Art Leaks.
We, the undersigned – artists and viewers, cultural actors and museum professionals, and all those who are concerned about the future of the National Art Museum of Ukraine (NAMU) – declare our support for the NAMU staff, who launched a protest on October 17, 2012.
We support the position of the collective of museum workers, as expressed in an open letter to the Minister of Culture of Ukraine Mykhailo Kulyniak:
“Given her glaring incompetence and unsubstantiated allegations, providing of false information, appropriation of the Museum’s past achievements, the staff of the National Art Museum of Ukraine demands the immediate dismissal of Ms. [Tatiana] Mironova from the post of Acting Director of NAMU and barring her from being appointed director of NAMU.”
We believe that the most valuable asset of the museum today is its collective. It is precisely this group of professionals that over the past several years has transformed NAMU into Ukraine’s leading art museum – an institution open to innovation and experiment. NAMU has presented the country’s most significant projects integrating contemporary art into the traditional museum context. These exhibitions, which can already be considered part of history, include “Ukrainian New Wave” (curator Oksana Barshynova), “Great Surprise. R.E.P.” (curator Olesya Ostrovska-Lyuta), “Gnilitsky. Cadavre exquis” (curators Lesya Zayats, Oksana Barshynova), “Hostage in NAMU” (curator Larissa Babij), “Myth: Ukrainian Baroque” (curators Galyna Skliarenko, Oksana Barshynova), and important international projects like “1989 – 2009: Turbulent World – Telling Time” (collective of international curators), “Beuys. Paik. Vostell. Art actions and video-art of the 1960s-1970s” and “Record Again! 40 years of video-art.de” (curator Daryna Yakimova), “Cultural Luggage” (curator Mykola Skyba).
We insist that NAMU should be headed by a museum specialist who knows the museum from inside and has experience working in this particular institution, who has played a role in the museum’s above-mentioned critical development. A few candidates meet these qualifications: Yuliya Lytvynets, Chief Curator of NAMU; Maryna Skyrda, Deputy General Director in Education of NAMU; Maria Zadorozhna, former Deputy General Director of NAMU.
We insist on the timely fulfillment of the process of choosing the new director of NAMU through the expertise of the Museum Council of the Ministry of Culture and the Minister of Culture’s subsequent appointment of the director, so that the museum may finally return to its previous working rhythm.
We also believe that the introduction of open, transparent and competitive procedures for filling key positions in cultural and art organizations is imperative for the modern development of Ukrainian institutions and is capable of safeguarding them from the influence of private business interests and government bureaucracy.