Statement on recent developments at MACBA

23 July 2021


CIMAM’s Museum Watch Committee is deeply concerned by recent developments at MACBA, Barcelona, one of Europe’s more influential and dynamic museums.

Significant organisational changes have been agreed upon by the Governing Authority in the period between the departure of outgoing Director [1] Ferran Barenblit, and the start of the tenure of the incoming Director Elvira Dyangani Ose. These changes have resulted in the dismissal of two senior staff members at the Museum. Tanya Barson, Chief Curator and Pablo Martinez, Head of Programmes.

CIMAM’s Museum Watch Committee advocates for clear and transparent governance of museums of modern and contemporary art and is concerned by what it perceives as a global ‘emptying’ of museums where professional curatorial expertise is undermined and undervalued in favour of managerial agendas.

CIMAM´s Museum Watch Committee believes that significant organisational reform to staffing and departmental structures should be informed by the leadership and vision of a Director and in dialogue with the wider staff and stakeholders. CIMAM is deeply concerned that far reaching and significant changes were agreed upon by the General Council of MACBA without either appropriate staff engagement and that two senior staff members within the organisation were removed from their positions during this interim period between Directors. While it is within the legal framework of MACBA's current Bylaws, approved in 2015, to allow for changes to the organisational structures of the Museum without the agreement of the Director, CIMAM advocates for best governance practice which would recognise the fundamental role of the artistic leadership in these processes.

CIMAM calls on the General Council of MACBA to respect the role of the incoming Director in determining the appropriate curatorial structures and processes for the future of this important Museum and to incorporate in their legal procedures the involvement of the Director in such far reaching and significant changes.

[1] CIMAM’s Museum Watch Committee has amended the errata in the first publication, whereby we referred to the Director’s position as Artistic Director, and apologize for the misunderstandings that this might have caused to interpret our intention, which remains intact.

In representation of the CIMAM Museum Watch Committee integrated by:

Bart de Baere, Director, M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium.

Sarah Glennie, Director, National College of Art and Design. Dublin, Ireland.

Calin Dan, Director, MNAC Bucharest—National Museum of Contemporary Art. Romania.

Malgorzata Ludwisiak, Independent Art Critic, Curator, Ph.D. Warsaw, Poland.

Victoria Noorthoorn, Director, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. Argentina.

Eugene Tan, Director, National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum. Singapore.

CIMAM – International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, is an Affiliated Organization of ICOM.