February 25, 2024

The directors of publicly funded museums in Slovenia have a five-year term, and many should be renewed shortly after Mr. Jansa came to power.

“On the one hand there are people who want museums to be responsible, relevant and ethical and places of understanding and tolerance, especially towards minorities,” said Kaja Sirok, the outgoing director of the National Museum of Contemporary History, in a telephone interview.

“And the other side wants them to be patriotic,” she added. Ms. Sirok will be replaced in February by Joze Dezman, a conservative historian who ran the museum from 2005 as a representative of Mr. Jansa.

Ms Sirok said conservatives like Mr Dezman tended to be very patriotic, with an emphasis on atrocities during the time of Slovenia under communist rule. She tried to do exhibitions that covered various political and historical points of view, she said, relating the Slovenian past to current issues such as immigration. Those efforts would likely stop once she was gone, she added. (Mr. Dezman did not respond to a request for comment.)

62-year-old Zdenka Badovinac, who has been the Artistic Director of Moderna Galerija since 1993, said she reapplied for the job at the end of her last term last year, but lost in a competition that was repeated several times. After one round, the Ministry of Culture dropped the requirement that the director have five years of experience running a museum, she said. The ministry has also ignored advice from museum boards – including Moderna Galerija – on who should be appointed, she added.

Mr Irsic, the spokesman for the Ministry of Culture, said the government has not always followed these recommendations as some museum councils are dominated by leftists. “The minister’s confidence in the due process of selecting the best candidates is the only line of defense against a politically appointed apparatus,” he said.