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Calls to Reinstate Italian Museum Director Facing Fraud Trial for Gym Visits

Rome’s Galleria Borghese director Anna Coliva was suspended last month, and faces charges of absenteeism and defrauding the public purse

Anna Coliva. Courtesy: Change.org; Fair Use

Anna Coliva. Courtesy: Change.org; Fair Use

Anna Coliva. Courtesy: Rex Features / Shutterstock

An online petition has emerged in response to the six-month suspension of Anna Coliva, director of Rome’s Galleria Borghese, without pay. Now her supporters are demanding that the Italian Ministry of Culture revoke its decision. The letter has garnered 1,651 signatories at the time of reporting.

Coliva is currently facing trial, charged with absenteeism and defrauding the public purse – allegations which were first raised by an anonymous complainant, resulting in an investigation of the director’s behaviour. Evidence gathered as part of the investigation shows that Coliva visited the gym during working hours.

Investigators were involved in secretly following the director over the course of two weeks – and their surveillance operation claims that she was absent for over 41 hours over 12 days. For her part, Coliva argues that overtime she worked made up for any absences, and that out-of-office activities usually involved museum business. Sources told the Art Newspaper that the original allegations came from a warder who had been disciplined for ticket touting.

‘We request the immediate ‪revocation of the [...] suspension pending the sentence of the criminal court in order to safeguard the Galleria Borghese, convinced that the return of Anna Coliva is the best guarantee to preserve the activities and reputation of one of the most important museums in Italy,’ the petition text reads. It points out that over the course of her directorship Coliva has ‘raised funds of over EUR€12 million, amongst many other monetary and non-monetary achievements made on behalf of the Italian community.’

The fundraising successes of Coliva’s overall tenure aside, as the Art Newspaper points out, the decision to suspend Coliva came just weeks after the closure of an important and well-received exhibition of Bernini’s sculptures at the museum, which produced EUR€2.5m alone for the institution.

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