Noever quits over birthday bashes dispute

One of Austria’s most controversial museum chiefs has stepped down after it emerged that private birthday parties he held at the attraction could have caused damages of several thousands of Euros.Peter Noever announced yesterday (Weds) he decided to resign as director of Vienna’s Museum for Applied Art (Museum für angewandte Kunst, MAK). Noever has headed the museum – which is controlled and subsidised by the Republic of Austria – since 1986.Noever came under fire last year when Austrian magazines and newspapers claimed birthday parties he held at the MAK for his mother caused severe damage to the museum’s books. Noever was also criticised for spending a lot of time in Los Angeles in the United States – where the MAK has a representation – on museum expenses.Referring to the birthday bashes for his mum, Noever said yesterday: “I regret the mistakes I’ve made in connection with these events. I take full responsibility.”It was reported today that Noever has now paid 130,000 Euros to cover losses suffered by the MAK. Social democratic (SPÖ) Culture Minister Claudia Schmied previously said damages may range around 100,000 Euros. Noever may nevertheless face criminal charges over his actions since the museum’s board of trustees decided to report him to the police.MAK board of trustees head and Erste Bank chief Andreas Treichl explained today the confidence base between the panel and Noever was “wiped away” by his decision-making in connection with the birthday celebrations.Treichl added: “We would like to thank him for all he did in the past 25 years in which he expanded the MAK’s reputation outside of Austria. We are aghast that his mixing of private and official issues is now overshadowing his successful term.”Schmied explained current deputy director Martina Kandeler-Fritsch will head the museum until a new head is appointed.The MAK, which is located at the Stadtpark in the city centre of Vienna, made headlines all over the world last year when it showcased paintings by artists endorsed by the dictatorial regime of North Korea.Many culture commentators attacked the MAK for failing to clearly disassociate itself from the country’s political agendas, while Noever argued he had got the green light by state leaders to put the artworks on display.