BERGMAN, ROBERT P. (17 May 1945 - 6 May 1999) was the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art and a nationally recognized spokesman for arts institutions. Bergman was born in Bayonne, New Jersey to Ethel and Abe Bergman. He received a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Bergman received both a Fulbright and a Guggenheim fellowship to pursue his specialty in medieval art and architecture. From 1971 to 1981, he pursued an academic career, which included a position as associate professor of fine arts at Harvard University. He served as the director of the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore from 1981 to 1993 at which point he was recruited by the Cleveland Museum of Art.
While director of the Cleveland Museum, Bergman helped boost yearly attendance from 400,000 to 600,000. He oversaw several major shows, including "Pharaohs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from the Louvre," "Fabergi in America," and "Vatican Treasures: Early Christian, Renaissance and Baroque Art from the Papal Collections." In addition, he guided the re-installation of thirty of the museum's seventy galleries, changed annual deficits into surpluses and helped arrange for acquisitions in all areas, including masterpieces like Annibale Carracci's painting "Boy Drinking," a 13th-century Pisan altar cross, Constantinian gold jewelry, a pair of fourth-century Maya ceramic figures, Renaissance armor by Pompeo della Cesa, and Andy Warhol's "Marilyn x 100." As the head of national organizations, including the American Association of Museum Directors and the American Arts Alliance, Bergman fought attempts by conservative politicians to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. He also advocated that museums respond directly and openly to controversies over the discovery in their collections of artworks looted by Nazis during World War II. Bergman served as chairman of the Cleveland Cultural Coalition and on the board of trustees of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. He was adjunct professor of art at Case Western Reserve University.
Bergman married Marcelle (Posnak) and together they had a daughter Margaret. Bergman died suddenly after a two-week illness with a rare blood disorder. His remains were cremated.