The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) a spendable three-year grant of $450,000 to support the hiring of a curator of Japanese and Korean art, and a matching grant in the amount of $1,500,000 to establish an endowment for the appointment of curators at the assistant or associate level.
From the grant, $1.5 million will enable the museum to strengthen its curatorial program with the addition of entry- and mid-level positions to a staff that currently has none. These positions would assist with new exhibition and research opportunities, especially the kind of collaborative object-based research that occurs between curators and conservators ensuring that the museum can contribute more broadly to the field by providing important opportunities for training curators through substantial collection-based work.
The grant also allows the museum to reinstate the position of curator of Japanese and Korean art, which was eliminated in 2003. This is a critical position to fill as the museum prepares to reinstall its Asian collection in a new wing to open in 2012-13. From its earliest days, The Cleveland Museum of Art has demonstrated an active interest in Asian art, collecting aggressively even before the completion of the first museum building in 1916. The Asian collection is made up of over 4,000 objects, not only from China and Japan, but also from India, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, Korea and Tibet. Included in the Korean and Japanese collections are a beaded coat and paintings from Korea; Japanese metalwork, textiles (sword guards), dolls and Japanese screens.
“This generous grant will allow The Cleveland Museum of Art to expand and strengthen its curatorial team during a period when the institution is re-envisioning its presentation and interpretation of the collection,” Griffith Mann, chief curator of The Cleveland Museum of Art said.
“The foundation made its decision after assurances were given by Board of Trustees President Alfred M. Rankin Jr. and Chairman Michael J. Horvitz that the CMA is steadfast in its determination to rebuild the staff of the Department of Asian Art and to continue to strengthen the curatorial ranks at all levels.”
The museum is currently undergoing a $350 million comprehensive renovation and expansion of its facilities, led by internationally renowned architect Rafael Viñoly. The project, the largest of its kind ever undertaken by a cultural institution in the State of Ohio, will leave no part of the museum untouched upon its completion in 2013. The museum’s renowned Asian collection has not been on public view since 2005.
The museum anticipates that it will be in a position to commit the matching funds of $1.5 million upon the settlement of the estate of Muriel Butkin, an art collector and longtime benefactor who passed away in the summer of 2008. The museum was named as the sole beneficiary of Mrs. Butkin’s estate.