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James Cuno: First week on the job for new head of the Getty

August 5, 2011 |  4:40 pm

James Cuno

Ask any Getty staffer, from guards to curators, and they will tell you the Getty is much more than a museum. It's also a research institute, conservation center and grant-making foundation. Those three arms of the Getty have been relatively stable in recent years, under the leadership of Thomas Gaehtgens, Timothy Whalen and Deborah Marrow respectively. But the museum has been another story--with the top spot there open since Michael Brand resigned abruptly in early 2010.

So when James Cuno, the new CEO and president entrusted with overseeing all four branches, squeezed in an interview this week during his first week on the job, this reporter asked him to talk about his views of museums in general and the Getty Museum in particular. He looked relaxed and rather tan in a pin-striped suit, fresh from a few weeks vacation at a family home in Norwich, Vt.

No, he hasn't approached anyone about the open Getty museum director post yet. Yes, he has very specific qualifications in mind for it, from the requisite grounding in art history and strong leadership and diplomacy skills to one more unusual attribute: "an appetite for risk in acquiring extraordinary works of art."

He also talked about buying masterpieces, the value of encyclopedic museums and why the Getty does not in his view qualify as one.

A conversation with Getty Trust CEO James Cuno


Getty Trust's new CEO: Art Institute of Chicago's James Cuno

Will James Cuno change the Getty, or will the Getty change James Cuno?

Getty Research Institute head Thomas Gaehtgens makes his mark

--Jori Finkel

Photo: James Cuno at the Getty Center. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times