David Franklin (curator)

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David Franklin is an art historian with expertise in Italian Renaissance art, a curator, and a former art museum director.

Thomson Collection[edit]

David Franklin is employed by the Thomson Collection in Toronto, Ontario. On April 8, 2015, he gave his first public lecture under this affiliation at the National Gallery of Canada's Wednesday Morning Lecture Series, focusing his remarks on Piero de Cosimo's painting.[1] Franklin helped plan the Canadian Photography Institute, which has promised gifts from David Thomson and major funding from Bank of Nova Scotia.[2] He is an editor of The Canadians (2016), a selection of photographs from The Globe and Mail archives.[3][not in citation given]

Cleveland Museum of Art[edit]

Franklin was named director of the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2010. Franklin's arrival in Cleveland was greeted with a great deal of media acclaim. His tenure was marked by a significant physical expansion of the museum (the largest expansion project in the museum's history, estimated at $350 million). While Franklin was Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, a donation of $1,000,000 was made by Leigh Carter in 2013 to the museum’s endowment to fund a permanent fellowship to help the museum’s director conduct research on special art historical projects.[4]

After a three-year tenure, Franklin abruptly resigned on October 21, 2013, citing personal reasons and a need "to do more research and writing."[5] Soon thereafter, the Cleveland Scene revealed that Franklin (married with two children) had been in a romantic relationship with an employee of the museum. The Board of Directors at the Museum had been made aware of the affair when the employee was found to have committed suicide in her Cleveland Heights home shortly before she and Franklin were supposed to have travelled to Italy together. According to police reports, David Franklin was the only person present at the scene when police came to investigate the suspicious death; Franklin claims to have discovered the body by entering the apartment through an open door. In the course of the investigation, it became apparent that the employee's digital camera and cell phone were missing. A detective was assigned to further investigate the death and Franklin's story.[6] When this revelation came to the attention of the board, Franklin chose to resign.[7][8]

National Gallery of Canada[edit]

Previously, Franklin served as deputy director of the National Gallery of Canada.[9] He worked at the National Gallery of Canada for twelve years, beginning as the curator of prints and eventually rising to the post of deputy director and chief curator. In 2009, the National Gallery of Canada Foundation received a donation from the philanthropists Donald and Beth Sobey for The Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment, an acknowledgment of their “deep respect for David Franklin’s rigorous and brilliant work.”[10] While at the National Gallery, Franklin became involved in a controversy involving the firing of a subordinate. His action of completely removing emails, by deleting emails from his system's trash, was seen as a move to remove evidence of wrongful termination. Franklin denied this. He was removed from his post, and after suing the institution, was restored to his position.[11][12]

Education and Scholarship[edit]

Franklin holds a PhD from London's Courtauld Institute of Art with specialization in Italian Renaissance art.[9] He won a prize from Yale University Press for his first book, and remains active as a scholar.


Contributing author to Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence, Gretchen A. Hirschauer and Dennis Geronimus, eds., Washington, National Gallery of Art, 2015. (Recipient of an Honorable Mention in the category of Art Exhibitions at the 2016 PROSE awards.)

Director’s Choice: The Cleveland Museum of Art, Scala, 2012.

Painting in Renaissance Florence from 1500 to 1550, London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 2001.

Rosso in Italy: The Italian Career of Rosso Fiorentino, London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994. (Recipient of the Mitchell Prize for the History of Art in the First Book, 1995.)


The Stella della solidarietà italiana (Star of Italian Solidarity) by the Republic of Italy in 2009, in recognition of David Franklin’s knowledge of Italian art and his contribution to its appreciation in Canada.[13]


  1. ^ http://www.beaux-arts.ca/documents/content/Wednesday_Lectures_2014-15.pdf; see his related essay, "Piero di Cosimo and the Painting of his Time," in Piero di Cosimo: the Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence, Washington, National Gallery, 2015
  2. ^ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/national-gallery-creates-new-photography-institute-with-aid-from-scotiabank-david-thomson/article27506410/; http://www.gallery.ca/cpi/
  3. ^ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/photography-book-the-canadians-a-kind-of-reimagining-of-the-americans/article31468672/
  4. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2013/09/former_bf_goodrich_president_l.html
  5. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2013/10/cleveland_museum_of_art_direct_1.html#incart_m-rpt-2#incart_m-rpt-2
  6. ^ http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2013/10/31/david-franklin-lied-to-cleveland-heights-police-the-night-he-found-christina-gastons-body
  7. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2013/10/cleveland_museum_of_art_confir.html
  8. ^ http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2013/10/23/former-cleveland-museum-of-art-director-david-franklin-resigns-after-affair-suicide-cell-phone-of-victim-missing
  9. ^ a b "David Franklin of the National Gallery of Canada named director of the Cleveland Museum of Art," Steven Litt, August 27, 2010, Plain Dealer.
  10. ^ http://www.gallery.ca/en/about/602.php
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/arts/design/29gall.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  12. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2010/08/david_franklin_of_the_national.html
  13. ^ http://www.gallery.ca/en/about/228.php