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Credit Chad Batka for The New York Times
Seven months after David Franklin abruptly resigned as director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, with museum officials later saying he had lied to them about his extramarital affair with an employee, the institution has named a high-profile successor from New York, signaling a new chapter in its 98-year history. He is William M. Griswold, who has led the Morgan Library & Museum for nearly seven years. Mr. Griswold, 53, who will start his new job in the fall, said he decided to leave New York because he relishes running a bigger institution, with one of the most encyclopedic collections in the country.
âAll told, Iâve been at the Morgan for 13 years,â Mr. Griswold said, including his years as head of its drawings department, from 1995 to 2001, as well as his years as director, from 2008. âIâm ready for my last big challenge.â Mr. Griswold also ran the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for two years.
Peter Raskind, a museum trustee who led the search committee, said in an interview that Mr. Griswold was chosen from among 30 candidates. âWe were looking for scholarship and a deep familiarity with the art market, so he could manage acquisitions,â he said. âHe had deep experience as a museum director, having run Minneapolis and the Morgan and was willing to be the public face of the museum, which includes fund-raising.â
Mr. Griswold will arrive in Cleveland just as the museum completes its eight-year, $ 350 million expansion and renovation, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which includes 35,300 square feet of new gallery space.
But for many Clevelanders, the enjoyment of art in the city has been overshadowed by the scandal that embroiled the museum. Mr. Franklin, in the top job for three years, resigned in October 2013. Museum officials later confirmed that Mr. Franklinâs relationship with a museum employee, Christina Gaston, who committed suicide in April 2013, had led to the resignation. According to Cleveland news reports, the board said that Mr. Franklin had lied to it about the relationship.
It was the latest turnover in leadership for the museum, which has had four directors and numerous interim directors over the last 13 years.
During his tenure at the Morgan, Mr. Griswold spearheaded the growth of its collections, exhibition programs and curatorial departments, adding a photography curator two years ago, a first for the institution. In an effort to reach a younger audience, he also presented many contemporary-art exhibitions, including the drawings of Matthew Barney last year, and installed temporary sculpture by artists including Mark di Suvero and Xu Bing in its atrium.
A specialist in Italian master drawings, Mr. Griswold received a doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, then went straight to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1988, working as an assistant, and later associate, curator of drawings. He later moved to the Morgan, leaving there in 2001 to become the associate director for collections at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and served briefly as its acting director.
He became the director and president of the Minneapolis Institute for two years, starting in July 2005, overseeing completion of a 113,000-square-foot expansion by the architect Michael Graves and a $ 100 million capital campaign to help finance the addition and bolster the museumâs endowment funds.
Mr. Griswold said that he seems to arrive at institutions either just as they are completing building projects or just after they finish them. When he returned to the Morgan in 2008, it had recently completed a major renovation and expansion, designed by Renzo Piano, that added 75,000 square feet to its existing campus.
And now he has new galleries to work with in Cleveland. âItâs a great museum thatâs never looked better,â Mr. Griswold said. âCleveland is an explosion of cultural activity, with the Cleveland symphony, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and partnerships with Case Western Reserve. Cleveland also has the Transformer Station, a contemporary art space in a vibrant area at the other end of town, which the Cleveland Museum helps to program.â
Mr. Griswold will be overseeing an institution with an endowment of $ 750 million and a collection of more than 45,000 objects that spans 6,000 years, from ancient to contemporary art. The Morgan, by comparison, has an endowment of $ 190 million, and world-class holdings of illuminated, literary and historical manuscripts; old master drawings and prints; music manuscripts; and early childrenâs books. It also has an independent research library.
The Morganâs collection focuses primarily on Western art, while Clevelandâs holdings are encyclopedic and include a world-renowned collection of Asian art, along with impressive representation of African and pre-Columbian works.
Lawrence R. Ricciardi, president of the Morganâs board, said on Monday that he was ânot totally shocked, but surprised,â when Mr. Griswold told him of his resignation. âWe are going to move quickly to set up a search committee and an interim director,â he said. The biggest challenge for a new director, he added, is âcontinuing to bring new people to the Morgan with creative programming and a vibrant exhibition schedule.â
Correction: May 20, 2014
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the museum that William M. Griswold has led for seven years. It is the Morgan Library & Museum, not the Morgan Museum & Library.
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