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She’s Back: Deborah Gribbon Returns to Cleveland Museum as Interim Chief Curator

Deborah Gribbon

Deborah Gribbon

Deborah Gribbon, who in 2004 resigned the directorship of the then embattled J. Paul Getty Museum in return for a $3-million monetary settlement, has just been named to become (effective Friday) interim chief curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art, which she had served as interim director during the 2009-10 interregnum between Timothy Rub (who left to become director of the Philadelphia Museum) and David Franklin (who left last week recently and abruptly, under a cloud).

This just in from Steve Litt of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Fred Bidwell, the Cleveland museum’s interim director, said Gribbon’s appointment would fill a gap left open by the recent departure of C. Griffith Mann, the museum’s former chief curator, who is now head of the Department of Medieval Art and the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“It was really important to me, especially because I don’t have the scholarly background that Griff or David have, to have someone in that post,” Bidwell said….

Bidwell said he thought Gribbon’s appointment would calm concerns of donors, foundations and other observers following Franklin’s departure.

The only thing that would truly “calm concerns” is the appointment of a highly distinguished permanent leader for what is still, notwithstanding its rocky recent history, one of the premier art museums in this country.

For now, at least the museum has a seasoned museum professional who already knows the players and can ably help to lead the museum through its opening festivities in December for its new  Rafael Viñoly-designed West Wing. Bidwell seems to be doing as well as can be expected in trying to right this foundering ship.

Gribbon’s appointment also softens the blow from the just released announcement that Jon Seydl, Cleveland’s curator of European paintings and sculpture, is leaving to become the Worcester (MA) Art Museum’s director of curatorial affairs, effective January.

an ArtsJournal blog