The director of the Cleveland Museum of Art has abruptly resigned his position just months before the completion of the institution’s eight-year, $350-million renovation project. David Franklin, who joined the museum three years ago, said in a statement that he wishes to “spend more time on research and writing.”
Franklin’s resignation is effective immediately, though he will serve as a consultant as the museum searches for a new director. Museum trustee Fred Bidwell has been named by the board to assume the role of interim director.
The announcement of Franklin’s resignation this week comes as the auction house Christie’s is preparing to sell two works from the museum’s collection -- Rufino Tamayo’s “Women Reaching For the Moon” (1946) and Roberto Matta’s “La Rosa” (1943).
Christie’s said on Wednesday that the two pieces will “be sold on behalf of the museum and proceeds from both works will benefit future acquisitions.” The auction is scheduled for Nov. 19 in New York.
The deaccessioning of the two works was planned long before Franklin’s resignation, and it was not clear whether there is any link between the two developments. The sale of the two items is expected bring in as much as $2.1 million.
In a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, museum board chairman R. Steven Kestner said he was surprised by Franklin’s resignation. “He resigned for personal reasons,” Kestner told the newspaper. “I really can’t say more than that.”
Speculation abounds surrounding Franklin’s departure. A report this week in Cleveland Scene claims that Franklin resigned after having an affair with a museum staffer who later committed suicide. The museum has not made any official comment about this report.
The Cleveland Museum of Art started its expansion project in 2002 with a fundraising campaign to generate $350 million. The project is being led by architect Rafael Viñoly and is expected to be completed by late December.