STA, 9 June 2022 - Pavel Car resigned as the director of the National Museum in Ljubljana on Thursday, a day after he postponed the opening of an exhibition of works by some of the world's greatest Modernist artists such as Picasso or Miro that raised serious forgery concerns. The Culture Ministry has already launched a procedure to select a new director.
In today's brief statement to the press, Car said the strong reaction of the general public and experts had made him realise he had made some mistakes, including that he had trusted the organisation of the exhibition to a wrong person.
"This has tarnished the museum's reputation," he said. In order to protect the reputation of the museum and its experts, he stepped down.
Car said that he had not pursued any personal gain with the exhibition Travels, but merely wanted to attract more visitors.
Last evening the museum was to put on display 160 works of art of greats such as Matisse and Kandinsky from a private collection of the Slovenian family Boljkovac.
But art experts labelled the paintings as "fakes," with art historian Aleksander Bassin wondering "how the National Museum can do such a thing, this is a scandal!"
Car meanwhile said last evening that he had seen the certificates proving their authenticity and accused the experts of jumping to conclusions.
Car, born in 1959, was appointed by the previous culture minister amid concerns that he was not up to the job of running one of the key national cultural institutions.
While he has a PhD in history, he is also a computer sciences graduate and has worked most of his career in IT, having no prior experience with running a museum.
Before he took over on 1 December 2020 for five years, the government amended the museum's bylaws to relax selection criteria.
He led the museum as it marked its 200th anniversary last year while its teams are also working to put up a major new permanent exhibition on Slovenian history.
Responding to Car's resignation, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko told the press that he had told her about his plan to step down today.
She accepted his decision, and the ministry has already launched a procedure to select his successor.
Vrečko said that they will select the new director based on professional references to restore the reputation of the oldest museum in Slovenia.
Asked about reviewing the cancelled exhibition, she said a review will be made with the new director in an attempt to find out "how this has happened".
Vrečko could not say whether the police would get involved to investigate the allegations of art forgery, but police officers have not yet visited the ministry.