MILAN (AP) — The new British-Canadian director of Milan's Brera Art Gallery has pledged to complete a nearly half-century-old project to create a contemporary art gallery across the street, presenting it Thursday among his plans to revitalize the 200-year-old museum.
James Bradburne, 60, said his goal is to make the Brera "the coolest insider place" of Milan, boosting its annual visitor numbers of 300,000 by a quarter and attracting more foreign visitors.
"I am going to make the museum better," Bradburne said after a presentation of his plans marking his 100th day on the job. "The numbers will come as a confirmation of that."
Bradburne pledged to open the exhibit space for modern art in the nearby Palazzo Citterio by the end of 2018, saying he would "not be the last in a long list" of directors to fall short of the task.
Cultural reforms have allowed state money to be allocated to restore the building, with work already underway, as well as giving the directors of some state museums more autonomy to raise and allocate private funds.
For the Citterio project, Bradburne said he has 18 months or so to raise at least 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to install the 120-180 works, adding, "all I can say is that I am good at finding money."
So the museum can be better appreciated, Bradburne is putting a three-year moratorium on lending out any of the museum's collection, which includes paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio and Perugino. He also announced a refurbishing of all 38 rooms, new lighting, boosting Wi-Fi coverage and outfitting museum staff with Trussardi uniforms, among a host of initiatives.
To get Milan residents back to the museum, he said the 10-euro ticket would be good for three months.
Bradburne, who arrived from the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, is among 20 new directors of Italy's top museums, including seven foreigners, hired last year by the Culture Ministry following an international bidding process.
That was criticized by some in Italy as demoralizing, but Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who attended Bradburne's presentation, defended the hires and reforms as an overdue opening of Italy's cultural heritage.
"If we can win the challenge at the Brera, in Milan, we can win in the entire country," Franceschini said.