Strategic Plan 2022

We are pleased to introduce For the Benefit of All the People, a thoroughly revised and updated version of the museum’s 2017 strategic plan, Making Art Matter.

It has been five years since we announced the previous iteration of the plan, and during that period we have accomplished many of the goals it laid out. We have made significant additions to the museum’s collection, launching a new International Council, securing the largest gift of art to the museum since 1958 (the Keithley Collection), and diversifying our holdings with the acquisition of hundreds of works by women and artists of color. We have reimagined multiple galleries, incorporating new works and new interpretive approaches, while such exhibitions as Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (2018) and Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain (2021–22) have enthralled audiences—the latter show breaking new ground in the application of technology to the museum experience.

We have completed and begun to implement a Grounds Master Plan, creating a new public park to the west of the museum (the Smith Family Gateway), and another, in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, to the east. The Community Arts Center contemplated in the 2017 plan is now fully operational. Additionally, in 2018, the CMA completed the first comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan ever published by a major art museum in this country.

Attendance reached a new record in 2018, and we seemed well on our way to achieving our goal of one million visitors, when in March 2020, the museum abruptly had to close due to the pandemic. There followed a period of social unrest sparked in part by the murder of George Floyd. With it came a shift in the public’s expectations of institutions of all kinds, including museums. The passage of five years since the creation of our last plan—together with our accomplishments to date and all the aforementioned changes—prompted us to take a fresh look at our opportunities as well as our challenges, and to craft new approaches to amplifying our impact throughout the community that we serve and beyond.

Our mission, vision, and values have not changed. Nor has the conceptual framework we developed in connection with the first iteration of the plan, which asserted that the role of the museum is to bring together art, place, and audience to create engagement and inspire wonder. We could not hope to achieve that fundamental goal without the human and financial resources that are critical components of this as well as the previous version.

For our current strategic plan refresh, we engaged the whole board and every member of staff. What is remarkable is the degree of consensus that rapidly emerged among the members of this diverse group. The new plan takes the audience-centered approach that was foundational to Making Art Matter one step further, arguing that we must be more directly responsive to the needs of all those whom we serve, both on-site and in the virtual realm.

We must extend the scope of our world-class collection, in order that all audiences may at once see themselves and discover the art and culture of others when they explore our galleries or visit online. We must augment our capacity to study, care for, and present the works we hold in trust for the public. We must adopt new approaches to communicating the relevance of the museum’s holdings, using cutting-edge technology to bring art to life for the broadest possible audience. We must continue to enhance the visitor experience, affirming the welcome we extend to everyone who walks through our doors and providing joyful and enriching encounters with art for schoolchildren, teens, college and university students, families, and older adults. We must engage the entire community, within and outside our walls, leveraging such assets as our Community Arts Center, Transformer Station, and Education Art Collection, while assiduously diversifying our exhibitions and programs, staff, audience, and field. Finally, we must nurture our staff and, at the same time, secure the financial resources we need if we are to safeguard the CMA’s future, so that we may remain a community anchor, a beacon for the visual arts, and one of the world’s foremost museums.

Thank you for your support of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Scott C. Mueller, Chair, Board of Trustees
William M. Griswold, Director and President

Vision, Mission, and Promise

Our vision

To be a global leader among museums.

Our mission

The Cleveland Museum of Art creates transformative experiences through art, for the benefit of all the people forever.

Our promise

The Cleveland Museum of Art offers dynamic experiences that illuminate the power and enduring relevance of art in today’s global society. The museum builds, preserves, studies, and shares its outstanding collections of art from all periods and parts of the world, generating new scholarship and understanding, while serving as a social and intellectual hub for its community.

Our Organizational Values


Be a community anchor and a beacon for the visual arts.


Communicate openly and hold ourselves accountable to one another and our audiences.


Recognize and celebrate the value of diversity.


Build an audience-centered culture.


Value constructive inquiry and embrace diversity of thought.


Seek knowledge and generate new scholarship in the service of humanity.

Strategic Planning Framework


The museum brings together art, place, and audience to create engagement and inspire wonder. The goals of the plan are designed to activate each of these three essential components of the museum experience, as well as to strengthen the financial underpinnings and organizational culture of our institution.

Success Measures

By 2027 . . .

  • Art
    • Acquisition of $1 billion in art by purchase, gift, promised gift, and bequest
    • 100% digitization of permanent collection, 1,000 photogrammetry images, and availability of artworks in Open Access on 100 non-CMA platforms
    • Fully operational analytical lab in Nord Conservation Center
  • Place
    • Renovation of Horace Kelley Art Foundation Lobby
    • Financially sustainable satellite location at Transformer Station
    • Establishment of environmental sustainability baselines and targets; reduction in carbon footprint
    • Representation of collection and exhibitions on emerging technology platforms
  • Audience
    • 1 million on-site visits each year
    • Attendance demographically similar to that of the Cleveland-Elyria Metropolitan Statistical Area
    • 300,000 annual visits to ticketed exhibitions
    • Increase in on-site and online participants in K-12 school programs from 69,000 students per year in FY19 (16,000 in FY22, due to COVID) to 100,000 by FY27
    • 25 million virtual visitors each year
    • Net promoter score of 90 or higher
  • Resources
    • Completion of $200-million fundraising campaign
    • Outperformance of endowment portfolio relative to applicable benchmarks
    • Increase in contributed revenue from approximately $10 million per year in FY22 to $15 million by FY27
    • Twice as many new members per year as in FY22
    • Twice as much earned revenue per year, increasing from $2 million in FY22 to $4 million by FY27
  • Organizational Culture
    • Upper quintile in employee engagement among Northeast Ohio nonprofits

NB: Unless otherwise specified, the success measures articulated under each objective are based on FY22 baselines and will be achieved within five years.

Strategies and Objectives

Budget and Human Resource Implications

While numerous objectives in the refreshed plan may be achieved without additional resources, through the reallocation of existing funds in the museum’s operating, capital, or acquisitions budgets, many others will require additional investment. These are called out in the version of the plan that includes tactics, and they undergird the museum’s planned fundraising campaign, as they do other portions of the Resources section.

The Process

This new iteration of the CMA’s 2017 strategic plan represents the outcome of a streamlined, three-month process that took as its starting point the museum’s accomplishments of the past five years. The plan also responds to the impact of such environmental factors as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as audiences’ evolving expectations of museums in particular and public institutions in general. In addition, we have woven into the plan the long-term goals of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan that the CMA published in 2018.

Museum leadership again worked with Organizational Performance Group (OPG), the consulting firm with which it created the first version of the plan, Making Art Matter. A strategic plan working group composed of a subset of the board of trustees and all eight members of the museum’s executive team undertook a series of meetings including two two-day retreats. OPG also conducted a half-day meeting with a representative, cross-functional subset of staff, while the director facilitated an exchange with the entire staff, in about twenty meetings, the results of which informed the plan in many ways. These inputs resulted in a first draft, which was the subject of staff review and a halfday board retreat.

The plan is thus the expression of some five hundred voices, which—despite differences in specific areas of focus—exhibited a remarkable consensus around several key points. These include the importance of being ever more responsive to the needs of our community; the prioritization of engaging real and virtual visitors in an experience that is both enriching and joyful; the imperative of leveraging technology in the service of creating transformative experiences through art; the diversification of our collection, programs staff, audience, and field; and the securing of our financial position, in order that we may continue to bring art to life for future generations of Northeast Ohioans.

With Gratitude

The following groups made this plan possible:

  • Board of Trustees, chaired by Scott Mueller
  • Executive team and entire staff of the museum, led by William M. Griswold
  • Strategic Plan Working Group, facilitated by Laura Freebairn-Smith and Leah Hancock (OPG)
  • Organizational Performance Group consulting team