Ohio Couple Gift Over $100 Million in Artwork to Cleveland Museum of Art

  • CLEVELAND, Ohio
  • /
  • March 11, 2020

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Pierre Bonnard, Fruit and Fruit Dishes (c. 1930). Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The Cleveland Museum of Art to receive dozens of major works by Bonnard, Braque, Caillebotte, Matisse, Vuillard and many others; its largest gift in more than 60 years.

A selection of the gifted works will go on view March 13 with a larger exhibition planned in fall 2022.

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has announced the gift and promised gift of more than 100 Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern European and American paintings, drawings, and prints; Chinese and Japanese ceramics; and other works of art from the collection of Clevelanders Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley. Valued at more than $100 million, the gift is the largest to the CMA since the 1958 bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr.

Ninety-seven of the works have come to the museum as outright gifts; another 17 are promised gifts that will enter the museum’s collection in the future. The gift and promised gift comprise five paintings by Pierre Bonnard; four each by Maurice Denis and Edouard Vuillard; two each by Milton Avery, Georges Braque, Gustave Caillebotte, Joan Mitchell, and Félix Valloton; and individual pictures of outstanding quality by Henri-Edmond Cross, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, and Andrew Wyeth. Among the works on paper are six watercolors by John Marin, five drawings by Bonnard, and a spectacular pastel by Eugène Boudin.

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“It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Joe and Nancy’s gift and promised gift,” said William Griswold, director. “It is nothing short of transformative, and it will permanently enrich our holdings—and the visitor’s experience—across the institution, from our galleries of Asian art to those dedicated to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and the 20th century in Europe and this country.”

The entire collection—all the Keithleys’ gifts and promised gifts—have been transferred to the museum, and beginning on Tuesday, March 17, a selection of the works will be on view in the CMA’s permanent collection galleries. A large-scale exhibition of the Keithley gift will take place in fall 2022 and be accompanied by a comprehensive publication.

John Marin, The White Moon, Sailboat (c. 1922). Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“It is incredibly exciting to see such a wide range of important works added to the museum’s collection,” said Scott Mueller, chairman of the board of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Visitors from Cleveland and around the globe will benefit from Nancy and Joe’s keen collecting vision and abundant generosity.”

Nancy and Joseph Keithley are longtime, generous supporters of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Mrs. Keithley became a trustee of the museum in 2001, and from 2006 to 2011 she was chair of its Accessions Advisory and Collections committees. She has also served as a member of the Finance Committee and is currently a member of the board’s Executive, Buildings and Grounds, and Collections committees. She is also a trustee of the Musical Arts Association, which oversees the Cleveland Orchestra. 

“Joe and I are thrilled to be giving back to our community,” said Mrs. Keithley. “Cleveland is our home and we have enjoyed building our lives here. It is important to us to share our collection with our fellow Northeast Ohioans, and we felt the Cleveland Museum of Art was a perfect home for the works of art we have assembled, cherished, and now joyfully make available to all.” 

An engineer by training, Mr. Keithley is the former chairman of the board, president and CEO of Keithley Instruments, Inc., a company that he led for seventeen years. He is a member of the boards of the Holden Forests & Gardens, the Cleveland Foundation, and LAND Studio and a trustee emeritus of Case Western Reserve University. 

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Strandgade, Sunshine (c. 1906). Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In 2013 the Keithleys established the Keithley Institute for Art History, a collaborative program of the museum and Case Western Reserve University to train future curators, scholars, museum directors and academic leaders. The program emphasizes an “object-oriented” approach to the teaching of art history, integrating theory with the direct observation of works in the museum’s celebrated permanent collection. The Keithleys’ gift will facilitate this effort, bolstering the number and high caliber of works available for study.

Mr. Keithley commented, “For Nancy and me, collecting has been a true joy, and we are delighted that these works will inspire museum visitors from Cleveland and around the world. That they will also be available to students—and will inform the teaching of art history and museology at the Keithley Institute—is especially exciting for us.”


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