Head of Costa Rican Art Museum resigns

July 4, 2008

The head of the Costa Rican Art Museum (MAC) resigned recently claiming the Arias administration through the Culture Ministry attempted to censor an exhibit celebrating the museum´s 30th anniversary.

Gabriela Sáenz, who was appointed as the director´s museum in 2006, resigned on July 4 in protest of what she claimed was pressure from the minister to remove a mural-size photo that depicts her father, former culture minister Guido Sáenz, and former president Daniel Oduber (1974-1978) inaugurating the museum three decades ago.

In her resignation letter, Sáenz says she decided to leave the museum because she failed to obey Culture Minister María Elena Carballo´s order to remove the photo. According to Sáenz, Carballo asked her to remove the photo because it constituted “a very delicate matter that could affect the image of President Oscar Arias.” Sáenz went on to accuse Carballo of “attempting to silence history.”

Carballo rejected Saenz´s charges of censorship and adamantly denied ever having exerted pressure to get the controversial photo removed.

The minister said that, upon reading the controversial resignation letter, she immediately accepted the resignation because “its content, which was completely removed from the truth,” convinced her Sáenz lacked the “serenity and maturity” needed to lead the art museum.

See this Friday´s Tico Times print edition for more on this resignation and the recent trend of resignations within Costa Rica´s cultural establishment.

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