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Cleveland Museum of Art Moves Quickly to Set Course for Leadership Succession Tapping Interim Director

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art announced today that Deborah Gribbon will assume the position of Interim Director and that it has initiated a broad search for the next permanent director of the institution. Gribbon will arrive at the museum on September 14 and take the position of Interim Director on September 21 as the current director departs. Gribbon brings to the Cleveland Museum of Art a wealth of outside perspective, outstanding credentials and significant experience in key issues now facing the museum, including its transformational renovation and expansion project.

“I am extremely pleased that we will have Debbie Gribbon’s leadership at such an exciting and important time in the museum’s history,” said Board of Trustees President Alfred M. Rankin, Jr. “She has proven herself to be a thoughtful manager of employees, a wise steward of an institution’s finances and an experienced leader of collection installations and building projects on a scale such as ours. I am looking forward to working with her.”

Gribbon was most recently the Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Vice President of the J. Paul Getty Trust for four years. Under Gribbon’s leadership, the Getty acquired more than 500 works of art and developed an ambitious program of temporary exhibitions. During her tenure, Gribbon was committed to making the collection more meaningful to a broad public. She redefined the museum’s approach to education and oversaw the creation of an advanced multi-media system for providing information about the collection to visitors.

For the previous 16 years, Gribbon served in various curatorial leadership positions. As Associate Director and Chief Curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, she oversaw all collection activity and played a major role in the planning and design of the new museum at the Getty Center. In 1998, she was promoted to Deputy Director and assumed responsibility for the day-to-day management of the museum. Prior to her time in Los Angeles, she served as curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston for eight years, and, while a graduate student, taught in various capacities at Harvard University. Gribbon has lectured and published in the art history and museum fields as well. Gribbon holds a doctorate and master’s degree in fine arts from Harvard University, writing her doctoral dissertation on the art of Edouard Manet. Her undergraduate degree is in art history from Wellesley College.

“I’m thrilled to be coming to Cleveland,” said Gribbon. “For nearly a century, the Cleveland Museum of Art has set the standard for American museums in the quality of its collections, the breadth of its educational programs, and the strength of its commitment to the community that surrounds it. This is clearly a particularly dynamic moment for the museum and, indeed, for the city—both are in a process of transformation built on a remarkable tradition of energy and excellence.”

“It is a great tribute to the Cleveland Museum of Art that we have been able to attract someone of the stature of Debbie Gribbon as our Interim Director. I know that everyone will find Debbie to be not only engaging and delightful but also a wonderful addition to our community," said Board of Trustees Co-Chairman Michael Horvitz.

In addition, the museum has announced the retention of the executive recruiting firm Phillips Oppenheim to assist in the search for a new director of the museum. Phillips Oppenheim, based in New York, is a leader in non-profit executive search and its arts practice group regularly works on the most prominent and prestigious searches in the museum field.

“We look forward to working on the search for what arguably is one of the most highly sought positions available in the museum field today,” said Sarah James, principal at Phillips Oppenheim.

“The Cleveland Museum of Art’s strong collection, staff, community support and financial outlook place it in an admirable position among museums and will attract the highest caliber pool of director candidates,” continued Becky Klein, principal at Phillips Oppenheim.

Cleveland Museum of Art | Deborah Gribbon | J. Paul Getty Museum | curator | director | Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum | Boston |

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