Director of Belgian Royal Museums Files Criminal Complaint Against Secretary of State

The Director General of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Michel Draguet has launched a criminal complaint against Secretary of State Elke Sleurs, accusing her of harassment and conspiracy, L’Echo reports.

Sleurs is the Secretary of State for poverty, equality, people with disabilities, urban policy, and science policy. Draguet accuses her, along with her superior René Delcourt, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Science Policy Office (Belspo), of interfering with the museums’ operations and preventing him from doing his job.

“The secretary of state has, constantly with the assistance of Mr. Delcourt, sought to put Mr. Draguet in difficulty,” states the complaint.

The Royal Museums officially comprise six locations in Brussels, including the Old Masters Museum, the Fin-de-Siècle Museum, and the Modern Museum, as well as three museums dedicated to specific artists: René Magritte, Constantin Meunier, and Antoine Wiertz.

But the Modern Museum is a contested institution, one to which Sleurs has been vocally opposed. Belgium’s collections of Modern and contemporary art are currently integrated into the other museums, while plans for the opening of a new museum in a former Citroen factory, in partnership with Paris’ Centre Pompidou, were approved this past September.

Conflicts between Draguet and Sleurs hark back to beginning of Sleurs’ tenure in October 2014. In December 2014, Sleurs allegedly announced to the Chamber of Representatives the closure of the Fin-de-Siècle Museum—which opened in December 2013, and is actually still in operation today—without visiting the museum or consulting Draguet.

The complaint also claims that Sleurs had carried out a financial audit on Draguet’s management—an unprecedented act—and that she asked Delcourt to “take the necessary measures if the facts are proven.”

She is also accused of blocking the appointment of new directors to the Royal Museums, and preventing the museum from acquiring certain artworks.

Most grievous of all complaints, however, is the accusation that “criticism and attacks” from Sleurs’ side were a factor in the suicide of Draguet’s wife.

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