Italy court suspends ruling that ousted museum directors

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Italy’s top administrative court on Thursday suspended a ruling that ousted five museum directors who had been hired as part of a bid to modernize and boost revenue from the country’s artistic and archaeological treasures.

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The ruling will re-instate the managers, who were hired with great fanfare in 2015 as part of a sweeping reform, but removed last month by a lower court that upheld complaints by unsuccessful applicants for the jobs.

The decision affects the archaeological museums of Naples, Taranto and Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, and the Ducal Palace Museum of Mantova and Estense Gallery in Modena in the north.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini tweeted that the higher court had suspended the earlier sentence, and that the museum directors “go back to work tomorrow”.

A final decision by the administrative court is due in October.

Franceschini says his reform is helping bring efficiency to the management of Italy’s 400 state museums, some of which are also on its list of 51 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Ticket revenue from the sites, which house a wealth of Renaissance art and ancient architecture, rose 12 percent last year to 172 million euros ($191.87 million).

But takings remain much lower than in peers such as France, whose Louvre museum alone rakes in 100 million euros a year.

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