Last year, employees of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels accused its director, Michel Draguet, of frequent inappropriate behavior including sexist and racist remarks. Those complaints have since been forwarded to Thomas Dermine, the Brussels Secretary of State for science policy, via a cosigned letter that denounces Draguet’s “rule of terror,” according to the Brussels Times.
According to the letter the museum staff are “preaching in the wilderness [while their] leaders turn a deaf ear [and the workers] survive in a general malaise.” The letter claims the museum suffers from “psychosocial risks in technical services and exhibitions,” multiple cases of “burn out and depression,” unequal treatment between employees and a general lack of “equity and basic justice.”
“We are faced with someone who is stuck in a past century,” an employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told the Belgian outlet RTBF in December. Last month a 28-page report that analyzed the psychosocial risks of working at the museum under Draguet was forwarded to museum management by Empreva, the prevention and occupational protection service of the Belgian Federal Public Administration.
Museum employees have previously made allegations of sexism and intimidation. Female employees claimed that conversations with Draguet teetered on the inappropriate, and that they often felt uncomfortable because his messages or comments appeared “flirty.” One employee complained that Draguet had once referred to an artist as “another pédale,” a derogatory French euphemism for homosexual.
Draguet has denied any wrongdoing. “On the other hand,” he told the outlet Les Grenades-RTBF, “I often use humor to improve the conviviality of meetings. I really don’t see what this is referring to. Especially since it is rare that I speak to employees without copying their department heads and/or my secretariat. “
Draguet has served four terms as director of the Royal Museum, starting in 2005. He is up for consideration for a fifth term this year.