Old (awkwardly) meets new at the partly expanded Cleveland Museum
This just in from the Association of Art Museum Directors, regarding the Cleveland Museum of Art’s court-approved plan to divert up to $75 million of the income from acquisition funds to defray building costs for its partially completed Rafael Viñoly-designed expansion:
The Association of Art Museum Directors respects the judicial process
the Cleveland Museum of Art has undertaken in requesting the court’s
permission to use income from four acquisition endowment funds to provide
financial support for the museum’s expansion project. The Cleveland Museum
of Art has pursued a public and legally recognized process for review and
judgment of their proposed plan.
The museum’s action does not violate
AAMD’s current [emphasis added] Professional Practices. The Cleveland Museum of Art and the
court have identified specific precedent in the museum’s history for taking
such an action, thus making the ruling particular to this case.
museum must determine how to fund its activities in light of varied internal
conditions and external realities, we encourage all museums to honor not
only the letter, but also the spirit of their donor’s intentions as they
pursue their institution’s mission.
It’s clear to me (and I think also to AAMD) that Cleveland’s actions do NOT honor “the spirit of their donor’s intentions.”
You’ll note that I highlighted the word “current” in the second paragraph if the above statement. AAMD’s “Professional Practices in Art Museums” is revised every 10 years. The most recent update was published in 2001. I trust that this sin of omission will be remedied in the next edition.
What’s the position of Deborah Gribbon, the interim director of the Cleveland Museum? I don’t have a direct quote. In response to my request for her comment, this statement was relayed to me by James Kopniske, the museum’s spokesperson:
Prior to making a commitment to lead the museum on an interim basis, Debbie spent time discussing with our board and senior staff leadership many current issues including using the income from the art funds for financing. She believes it [the court-approved diversion of acquisition funds] is a reasonable financing strategy, given the extraordinary circumstances we currently face.
It appears that she has no desire to try to reverse a decision taken before she got there, when Timothy Rub (now at the Philadelphia Museum) was director.