Cleveland Museum of Art Spreads Message of Inclusiveness
From Caravaggio to Warhol, the Cleveland Museum of Art has an international reputation for the works displayed on its walls. But, the latest installation has raised a few eyebrows around town. It’s a couple of large banners hanging on the south side of the building, facing the lagoon. The banners say: “For the Benefit of All the People Forever." It’s one way that the local arts community is reacting to some of the changes happening - and proposed - in Washington.
The art museum's director, William Griswold, says the meaning behind this message goes back to his institution’s founding documents. The words come from Jeptha Homer Wade, the benefactor who donated the land the museum was built on over a century ago. Griswold says it's become a mission statement.
“It seemed to us, in this period of corrosive rhetoric about immigration, and in a period where the values of tolerance and inclusion seemed under assault, it was very important that we remained true to that mission, that we publicize that mission, and that we strongly project the message that we are welcoming and open to all.”
The Cleveland Museum of Art also recently joined a group of five Northeast Ohio museums who are protesting proposed federal funding reductions for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the lesser known Institute for Museum and Library Services.
“These are extremely important programs,” says Griswold. “They are important to the health of our country’s cultural organizations. They are important to the Cleveland Museum of Art, but they’re even more important to many smaller institutions. Without them, many of these institutions would be under serious threat and might perish.”
Joining the Cleveland art museum in issuing the protest are the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland, the Akron Art Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, and Transformer Station on Cleveland’s near west side.
Hear entire William Griswold interview: