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Cleveland Museum of Art to Receive Largest Gift in 60 Years

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Some Clevelanders express love for their city by cheering on the Browns during the NFL season or defending Cleveland’s claim to be Superman’s spiritual birthplace. Joseph P. Keithley and Nancy F. Keithley went a different route. On Wednesday, the Cleveland Museum of Art announced that the Keithleys, prominent local philanthropists, have donated more than 100 artworks by Henri Matisse, Camille Pissarro, Andrew Wyeth and others to the institution.

“Cleveland is our home,” Ms. Keithley said in a statement. “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.”

Of the pieces, 97 are outright gifts to be donated right away, while 17 are promised and will be added to the C.M.A. collection in the future. Among the first works to join the collection are three paintings by Pierre Bonnard, two by George Braque and one by Pablo Picasso. The donations, which also include Chinese and Japanese ceramics and watercolors by the American painter John Marin, are valued at more than $100 million in total, according to the museum.

Work by members of the Nabis group is especially well represented in the Keithley’s gift, enhancing the museum’s already impressive collection of French modern art. 16 paintings, six drawings and three prints by artists associated with the Post-Impressionist movement are included in the donated material. The gift also adds paintings by Henri-Edmond Cross, Vilhelm Hammershoi, Félix Valloton, Jan Verkade, Nicolas de Stael and Wyeth to the holdings at C.M.A.

William Griswold, the museum’s director and president, explained that historically the institution has added to its collection by carefully purchasing new works. But the competitive art market, he said, means that donations are an increasingly important source for acquisitions. “Among the works in the Keithley collection, for example, there are many that would have been very difficult for us to have acquired on our own,” he said in an interview.

Visitors to the museum won’t have to wait long to see some of the donated works. A selection will be on display beginning March 17 in the museum’s permanent collection galleries. A more comprehensive exhibition of the Keithley gift is scheduled for fall 2022.


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