De Paestum à Pompéi, Gabriel Zuchtriegel leaves a remarkable site for an exceptional site. During a press conference at the Coliseum in Rome, the Italian Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, addressed his “Best wishes for success to Gabriel Zuchtriegel, who leaves his extremely positive work in Paestum for an exciting mission: the most beautiful job in the world for an archaeologist”.
“Pompeii represents a renaissance, a model for all of Europe in the management of community funds. A place where we started to do research and archaeological excavations again ”, added the minister. However, a few years ago, the site, victim of repeated collapses, was threatened with being removed by Unesco from the list of world heritage before a major project funded by Europe gives it a second wind.
An archaeologist trained across Europe
Gabriel Zuchtriegel, 39, has been running the Paestum site since 2015, located not far from Pompeii south of Naples. “I am happy to be able to run a place that is unique in the world”, rejoiced this archaeologist trained in Rome, Berlin and Bonn, who succeeds Massimo Osanna, himself appointed head of all museums run by the Italian state. Gabriel Zuchtriegel has taught in Bonn, Matera, Naples and Salerno (southern Italy) and is the author of many articles and books.
His candidacy – the new director obtained Italian citizenship in July 2020 – was selected after an international competition in which no less than 44 people participated, including ten foreigners. In 2017, the Council of State – Italian supreme administrative court – had indeed confirmed that foreigners could take the head of Italian museums. The Uffizi Museum in Florence is notably run by another German, Eike Schmidt.
Italian museums open to foreign directors
Like most Italian cultural sites, Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, has remained closed in recent months due to the Covid pandemic and only reopened on January 18. In 2019, the site had welcomed more than 3.9 million visitors, making it the third most visited site in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome and the Uffizi Museum in Florence.