The Brussels Royal Museum Director Resigns, Staff Allegations

The Brussels Royal Museum Director, Michel Draguet, Resigns After Staff Allegations of Racism, Sexism, and Intimidation.

Apr 26, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Brussels Royal Museum
Michel Draguet. Photo: Olivier Anbergen.


The Brussels Royal Museum has had the same director since 2005. Now, that is not the case. Michel Draguet resigned from the director’s position after his colleagues accused him of many toxic allegations. These include: harassment, sexism, and racism, among other complaints. The final resignation comes on April 30. After meeting with the unions and museum management on Monday, he resigned.


The Brussels Royal Museum Workers Sent an Open Letter to the Secretary of State

The Brussels Royal Museum
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Wikipedia


Not a small number of people filed a report against the now former director of this museum. There are 176 museum workers. They filed a complaint to Thomas Dermine, Belgium’s Secretary of State. His task is also to oversee the work of federal museums. The letter contains all allegations of Draguet’s inadequate and unprofessional behavior.


Draguet was surprised when the information first became public. He said that’s not him: “The allegations were a surprise, because there is obviously a lot of suffering, and a lot of pain in this letter, and we didn’t notice it, nor was it heard in the consultation bodies with the unions”, he said at that time for the RTBF (Belgian news).


The Free University of Brussels
The Free University of Brussels. Wikipedia


Given Draguet is also a professor of art history and archaeology, the Brussels media interviewed his students to see if similar situations happened there. Students are from the Université Libre de Bruxelle. Similar situations happened there, as well. Some of them said they felt humiliated and that he made transphobic and sexist comments. Also, students said many left the lectures in tears.

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“He won’t hesitate to use offensive language” – The Museum Workers

Michel Draguet
Michel Draguet, director of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Photo courtesy Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.


When asked about topics related to feminism or colonialism, and adding “inclusive writing” in communication, Draguet noted that “the Royal Museums are a scientific institution and not of activism”. Because of this, it is not mandatory to use inclusive language. After the application was submitted, the new workers came forward and made a comment.


They said he is stuck in the past century. They also said is a person who doesn’t think twice about using offensive language, even when it comes to meetings. The employees said that his administration amounted to a reign of “terror” that drove many employees to exhaustion. Draguet and his management of the museum were the subject of an inquiry by BELSPO, which resulted in a 28-page report.


belgium nineteenth century james ensor
Belgium in the Nineteenth Century by James Ensor, via Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels


The public will be able to see this report in June. “I would like to point out that the evaluation process, which I completed on March 23, did not provide any material evidence of the accusations of racism, homophobia, or sexism reported in the press”, BELSPO chairman Arnaud Vajda said in a statement. He thanked the organization for “a truly objective investigation”, even “in the age of social networks and media lynching”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.