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Is It William Griswold? Cleveland Museum to Announce New Director Tomorrow UPDATED

Director William Griswold in J.P. Morgan’s library at the Morgan Library and Museum

Director William Griswold in J.P. Morgan’s library at the Morgan Library and Museum

UPDATE: It is, indeed, Griswold, who will start his new gig this fall. Here’s the Cleveland Museum’s official announcement.

We’ll find out tomorrow if I’m right, but what I’ve learned from a good (if not quite airtight) source is that the Cleveland Museum of Art is poised to name its new director tomorrow morning, and that he’s none other than William Griswold, the incomparable director of the Morgan Library and Museum, where the job had matched his specialty—prints and drawings.

If he is, in fact, the director-designate, the Cleveland Museum’s once cloudy future has suddenly become radiant. It couldn’t have found a more energetic, imaginative, deeply informed director, whose enthusiasm for the institutions he has led has always been sincere and contagious.

I’ve been a Griswold groupie ever since his Griddle Griswold days directing another encyclopedic museum—the Minneapolis Institute of Arts—where I interviewed him at length for my Wall Street Journal article about that museum’s 2006 Michael Graves expansion.

I had the chance to grill him again for the Wall Street Journal, after he assumed the directorship of the Morgan Library and Museum, where one of his major accomplishments was brilliantly orchestrating the restoration of its historic core, J.P. Morgan’s 1906 lair, which had become marginalized by the Renzo Piano expansion under Bill’s predecessor, Charles Pierce Jr. As part of the sensitive, sparkling restoration, visitors could at last walk into J.P. Morgan’s alluring study, rather than peering at its eclectic contents from behind a rope.

Griswold enlivened Piano’s dauntingly cavernous, sleek but sterile atrium with temporary installations of monumental contemporary artworks, as well as with historic works from the Morgan’s own collection. And he oversaw a temporary exhibition program that balanced the esoteric and the populist, while putting generous helpings of the highly distinguished permanent collection on view at all times—everything from cylinder seals to Gutenberg Bibles.

He had told me that directing this New York museum, where he had once been a curator, was his dream job. In a May 2007 CultureGrrl post—More on the Itinerant William Griswold—written just after he was named to the Morgan post, I reported:

William Griswold assured me that he’s not a museum-hopper: “This is my retirement job. The Morgan is in my blood and in my heart.”

Then, in the next breath, the 46-year-old acknowledged that he had “had every intention to stay here [in Minneapolis] a long time” and added, “I know there are bigger jobs” than his new position.

My own comment on that was, “Time will tell.”

Now, if my information is right, his time at the Morgan may soon be up. (If I’m wrong, the better for New York and the Morgan!)

an ArtsJournal blog