William M. Griswold was appointed director of the Cleveland Museum of Art in May 2014. The institution’s ninth director, he leads the 450-member team responsible for building, preserving, displaying, and interpreting the museum’s renowned collection of some 60,000 works of art; for deepening its long-standing engagement with the local community; and for elevating its profile and reputation both nationally and internationally.
Shortly after his arrival in Cleveland, Griswold led the museum’s preparations for the celebration of its centennial in 2016 and oversaw the conclusion of the $320-million campaign that made possible its recently completed renovation and expansion designed by Rafael Viñoly. In 2016 he undertook the development of a comprehensive new strategic plan designed to amplify the impact of the museum’s permanent collection, leverage its extended campus, and grow and diversify its audience locally, regionally, and globally. The museum’s board of trustees unanimously approved the plan, titled Making Art Matter: A Strategic Framework for Our Second Century, in September 2017, and under Griswold’s guidance the staff immediately began its implementation. In addition, Griswold led an effort to create the museum’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan, outlining a series of initiatives that will simultaneously advance the objectives articulated in Making Art Matter and help to realize the museum’s commitment to diversify its staff and audiences. It was approved by the board in 2018.
Griswold’s tenure has seen the acquisition of numerous important works of art by gift as well as purchase, and he has overseen a program of ambitious exhibitions ranging from Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse to The Ecstasy of Saint Kara (on recent work by Kara Walker) and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. In January 2019 the museum announced that, during the preceding year, it had achieved both record attendance and record membership; a week later, the museum made comprehensive information and images of works of art in its collection universally available, free of charge, by means of open access—firmly bringing its historic mission to “create transformative experiences through art for the benefit of all the people forever” into the digital age.
From 2007 to 2014, Griswold was director of the Morgan Library & Museum, in New York. He was previously director and president of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (2005–2007), acting director and chief curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2004–2005), and associate director of collections at the Getty (2001–2004). Prior to joining the Getty, Griswold was Charles W. Engelhard Curator and Head of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Morgan Library (1995–2001), and he served as assistant and later associate curator in the department of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (from 1988 until 1995).
Griswold is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors and is chair of its task force on archaeological material and ancient art. He serves on the board of the American Friends of the Shanghai Museum and is a former president of the Master Drawings Association and a former member of the boards of the Courtauld Institute of Art and the American Trust for the British Library. In 2008 he received France’s insignia of Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2015 he was awarded the medal of Cambodia’s Royal Order of Sahametrei. In 2018 Griswold was honored as the first recipient of the new Barbara Robinson Prize for arts advocacy by the Cleveland Arts Prize. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Trinity College, in Hartford (CT), and his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London.