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
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).
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
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.
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”.