Despite a recent scandal resulting in the abrupt departure of its Executive Director, the Cleveland Museum of Art is on an upward trajectory as it completes the final phase of an eight year renovation and expansion. ideastream's Bill Rice reports.
An end of year press release lists a string of accomplishments that indicate a bright future for the 100 year old institution. First among them - a 39 percent jump in attendance in its last fiscal year.
Interim Director Fred Bidwell says From June 2012 to June 2013 more than 500,000 people visited the museum.
Bidwell: "And in fact, since June our attendance continues to accelerate. I don't want to jinks anything by making any promises, but we might hit 600,000 in the fiscal year ending next June at this pace."
The museum attributes the boost to the opening of the museum's 39,000 square foot atrium, as well as its interactive Gallery One, its new new north wing galleries, and new programming initiatives
Bidwell acknowledges the extraordinary length of the project that included a three year closure of 19 permanent collection galleries may have raised doubts among some museum enthusiasts as to whether it was worth the wait. He says now the consensus is that it was well worth it. In addition to local visitors, its likely drawing in more out-of-towners as well.
BidweIl: "I don't think we have enough data yet for me to make a definitive statement, but I can sure say anecdotally I am seeing that. And one thing interestingly, we're seeing museum professional coming from all over the country and the world to see this project."
The Museum says it also had a banner year in fundraising, bringing in $36 million. And so far this year, fundraising has outpaced last year by more than 80%.
On New Years Eve the Museum is hosting a $150 per ticket celebration to unveil the final piece of the renovation - its new west wing gallery, which will open to the general public January 2nd.
Bill Rice, 90.3.