For more than a hundred years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been a cornerstone of its community and a leader among arts institutions nationwide. The museum’s recent physical expansion, world-class collection, outstanding staff, and generous supporters have positioned it for a second century of solid growth.
The environment in which museums operate has changed, however, and those changes have brought with them formidable new challenges. The market for outstanding works of art is very different today from that in which the museum assembled its collection, colossal prices having eclipsed our former preeminence in this domain. Audiences are skewing older, and it is imperative that the museum adopt new strategies to engage younger visitors and underserved communities. Traditional methods of display and interpretation, which pre-suppose a degree of familiarity with the broad outlines of art history, no longer resonate with many current and potential visitors.
This plan—the outcome of almost a year of substantive conversation among trustees and staff, as well as with external stakeholders—articulates the museum’s response to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of us.
It lays out new approaches to the acquisition, care, exhibition, and interpretation of the works of art we hold in public trust.
It formulates a series of initiatives through which the museum will leverage the power of place to deepen visitors’ engagement with art and culture. New strategies will maximize the impact of our extended campus, ranging from our historic main building and adjacent Fine Arts Garden to a new public park just to the west of the museum; the property formerly occupied by the Cleveland Institute of Art, which we now own with our long-standing partner Case Western Reserve University; our Community Arts program, with its headquarters on Cleveland’s near west side; and the Transformer Station, a promised gift to the museum from the Bidwell Foundation.
Perhaps above all, the plan focuses on ways to make art meaningful to all audiences: new and existing, nonspecialist and scholarly, young and old, traditional and nontraditional, regardless of whether they are already familiar with art or art museums.
Finally, it addresses ways that we will strengthen our financial position while enhancing the organizational culture that lies at the core of our success.
Our second century has immense potential. It is incumbent upon us all to ensure that the Cleveland Museum of Art remains not only one of the world’s great museums but also a beacon, facilitating access for all those in Northeast Ohio and beyond to the history of the human experience as it is expressed through art.
William M. Griswold, Director and President