"People come and go so quickly here," said Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, responding to the departure of Glinda, the good witch, leaving her alone with the tittering munchkins of Munchkinland.
A person might marvel like that over the departure of Timothy Rub from the Cleveland Museum of Art after serving as the museum's director and chief executive officer for slightly more than three years. Rub steps down just one week after the museum's big Summer Solstice celebration and the opening of its new Rafael Viñoly-designed East Wing.
Rub, who took the job in January 2006, will take over as executive director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in September, according to a press release from the museum. In Philadelphia, he'll fill the slot left open when Anne d'Harnoncourt died of a heart attack last June.
Money doesn't seem to have been a factor. In fact, in 2007 — the latest year for which we were able to access IRS 990 forms — d'Harnoncourt's salary in Philadelphia, including retirement contributions, was $354,443, almost $23,000 less than Rub's compensation in the same year. Since then, Rub has taken a pay cut in Cleveland to help the museum stabilize finances. Of course, the economy will continue to challenge the museum in both its operating costs and the completion of the renovation and expansion.
Rub arrived in Cleveland five years after the museum had named Rafael Viñoly as chief architect for its expansion, but just a few months after construction had begun. Had he stayed through its completion, he could have claimed bragging rights for having shepherded the museum through a defining moment in its history. As it is, he's left it half undone. And with his departure, the project will have spanned the tenures of at least four directors.
But Philadelphia has a challenging capital project in a tough economy too. Rub will arrive in Philadelphia just before that institution breaks ground on a long-awaited renovation, the culmination of a 10-year plan that will be designed by Frank Gehry and which sounds a lot like the renovation in Cleveland. Gehry will expand and renovate the Philadelphia Museum's iconic building "without disturbing its classic exterior," according to the museum. The project will result in the addition of 80,000 square feet of new public space. It should make Rub feel right at home.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland museum will begin looking for a new director shortly.