The Cleveland Museum of Art offers free general admission, but it earns revenue from parking, retail, and special events and exhibitions. One notable source would have been its biggest exhibition of the year, a display of ’s
works on paper. Scheduled to open in May, the ticketed show will likely be postponed until the fall. “We are in the process of recreating our exhibition schedule for the next several years, starting almost from scratch, postponing some projects for a few months and others for a few years,” Griswold said.
The Cleveland Museum of Art does not currently have plans to take an exceptional draw from its endowment, valued at $826 million before the pandemic. Griswold is hopeful that “significant relief” will come from the CARES Act; the museum is also exploring the option of applying for a loan through the new Paycheck Protection Program, which would help cover payroll expenses.
Griswold has also established a task force to develop protocols for when the museum does eventually reopen. He expects to see attendance drop to 30% of its usual figure, with visitorship not returning to typical levels until one year after the reopening. Even with these reduced numbers, he foresees measures like staggered shifts, smaller gallery capacities, and timed ticketing. Exhibition programming, which often involves loans from international partners, will likely be more focused on immediate resources. That means more exhibitions that engage with the permanent collection, Griswold said, especially art that is ordinarily in storage. “I think that’s going to be exciting in particular for our local audience,” he said. “This will be a year when we will refocus on our immediate neighbors who are reeling from this catastrophe. And we can play a big role.”
He added, “I think we’re being appropriately cautious and, at the same time, appropriately ambitious for the kind of program that we’re going to be able to deliver.”