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News Flash: Deborah Gribbon Named Cleveland Museum’s Interim Director

Deborah Gribbon

It’s taken almost five years, but Deborah Gribbon, who in 2004 resigned her position as director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, over conflicts with the Getty Trust’s then president, Barry Munitz, will soon have a new museum gig—interim director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, succeeding Timothy Rub, who will assume the directorship of the Philadelphia Museum.

Cleveland’s press release, which just hit my inbox, is here. Steven Litt of the Cleveland Plain Dealer already has the story, including ecstatic comment from the museum’s luminaries:

“I’m really so excited I can hardly contain myself,” said Michael Horvitz, co-chairman of the museum’s board, who spearheaded the effort to lure Gribbon, 61, out of retirement. “This is exactly the right thing for the institution at this point.”

You can get a sense of what I think of Gribbon here, where she was Number 6 on my list of (unpicked) picks for the directorship of the Metropolitan Museum:

Deservedly well respected in the field, she’s never had a chance to display the full measure of her ability, having been on the leash of the Getty Trust’s now deposed president.

In connection with her departure from the Getty, Gribbon received a $3-million monetary settlement of her “claim against the Trust for unlawful ‘constructive discharge,’ as well as other potential employment-related claims,” according to the California Attorney General’s 2006 report criticizing Munitz and the Getty’s trustees for improper spending and legal violations.

Will the interim director be in line for the permanent spot? Probably not. Cleveland’s announcement states:

Gribbon and the leadership of the Board of Trustees have agreed that she can be most effective as Interim Director if she is not a candidate for the permanent director position. As Interim Director, one of her roles will be to serve as an advisor for the director search.

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