CLEVELAND, October 21, 2013 – The Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) announced today that David Franklin has resigned his position as Director, effective immediately. Dr. Franklin had been the Director of the CMA since September, 2010 and will be retained as a consultant for a period of time in order to insure an orderly transition.
“Thanks to our outstanding team, the Cleveland Museum of Art has made tremendous progress during the past few years. Our Museum and its finances are in an excellent position to take advantage of an exciting and dynamic future,” said CMA board chair Steven Kestner. “The Museum is one of the premier art museums in the world and we are confident that we will find a great leader to continue the momentum.”
Museum Trustee Fred Bidwell has been named by the Board to assume the role of Interim Director until a new director is in place. Kestner noted that, “Fred’s unique combination of business experience and passion for museums and collecting makes him a great choice to lead the Museum during the search.”
“Our Museum is world-class and I am excited and privileged to be working with the entire staff on a thrilling lineup of upcoming exhibitions and programming,” said Bidwell. “All of the galleries will be open by year end, highlighted by our exciting Gallery One, which puts the Museum at the forefront of innovation and visitor experience.”
The Board has appointed a search committee led by Museum Trustee and prominent Cleveland businessman Peter Raskind to select an executive search firm and to consider candidates in the coming months. No timetable has been set for this search, which will begin immediately.
About Fred Bidwell
Fred Bidwell is the retired Executive Chairman of JWT/OgilvyAction, a national advertising agency serving leading brands with more than 500 employees. In addition to serving as a trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Fred has twice been Board President of the Akron Art Museum and has been an active supporter of numerous other arts institutions in Northeast Ohio and beyond. In 2013, Fred and Laura Bidwell were awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize Martha Joseph Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.
In 2011, Fred and his wife Laura established the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation to share their collection and foster creativity and innovation through the arts. The Bidwell Foundation’s major project is the Transformer Station, a new arts and exhibition space in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland which opened in early 2013. In a unique private/public partnership, the Bidwell Foundation operates the facility and lends the space for half of each year to the Cleveland Museum of Art to stage contemporary art exhibitions and projects. During the six months of the year that the Bidwell Foundation operates the Transformer Station space, the Bidwells will curate exhibitions based on their collection.
After graduating from Oberlin College with an art history major, Fred worked as a commercial and fine arts photographer before changing his career to advertising. He joined Malone Advertising, Inc. in Akron, OH in 1982 and became President and CEO in 1996. In 2005, Bidwell sold the agency to J. Walter Thompson (part of WPP Group, Dublin) and remained with the company as Chief Executive Officer. In 2010, he combined Malone Advertising with Ogilvy Action to create JWT/OgilvyAction, a joint venture between Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson.
Statement from David Franklin
I am proud of the accomplishments that our team has achieved during my tenure. We have raised more than $100 million, opened the unique and innovative Gallery One, and made notable acquisitions and achievements in publications, research and scholarship culminating in the creation of the Keithley Institute for Art History, in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University. I thank every staff member, donor and the Board for helping make those accomplishments possible. The Museum is on very solid financial footing, with a bright future as one of the world’s finest art collections. Over the past few months, I have concluded that it’s time to spend more time on research and writing. I look forward to working with Fred Bidwell to achieve a smooth transition, and to starting work as a consultant on special projects such as the upcoming exhibition, Exporting Florence, scheduled to open in October 2014.