Getty Museum Director to Step Down

The Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust has announced that Michael Brand will step down as director of the Getty Museum at the end of January.

During his tenure, Brand, who signed a five-year contract in December 2005, helped resolve repatriation claims made by Italy and Greece on objects in the Getty's antiquities collection; oversaw the opening of the Getty's Center for Photographs, one of the largest gallery spaces dedicated to photography in the nation; and, with the reopening of the Getty Villa in 2006, became the first Getty director responsible for the administration of two campuses.

But he took over at a troubled time for the museum and its supporting trust, the New York Times reports. Less than two months after he joined the museum, Getty Trust president Barry Munitz resigned amid questions about his personal expenses and use of the trust's money; Munitz was succeeded by James N. Wood, a longtime director of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the end of 2006. Although Brand declined to explain his departure, several museum officials and others in the art world acknowledged that Brand and Wood had sharply different ideas about the direction the museum should take.

Brand told the Times he had no immediate plans to join another institution and would continue to live in the museum director's residence through the end of the year and receive his salary until the end of January 2011 — past the expiration of his contract later this year. According to Wood, Getty Museum associate director for collections David Bomford will serve as interim director until Brand's successor is named, with a search committee to be formed shortly.

"I am very pleased at how the Getty Museum has continued to mature into a highly innovative and respected art institution since my appointment in 2005, and I want to pay tribute to the incredible professionals with whom I have been privileged to work at the Getty," said Brand. "I am very proud of what I have been able to achieve in my four years as director of the Getty Museum, especially the successful conclusion of negotiations with Italy and Greece, the establishment of new relationships with sister institutions in Mexico, and opening up the museum's exhibition program to non-Western art and contemporary art, as well as an unprecedented level of collaboration with the Getty's three other programs. I look forward to further pursuing such interests after a break in Los Angeles."

Randy Kennedy. "Getty Museum Director to Leave Post This Month." New York Times 01/07/2010. "Getty Museum Director Michael Brand Steps Down." J. Paul Getty Trust Press Release 01/07/2010.