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Michael Brand’s Statement to Staff: Reading Between the Lines

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The Getty Museum

[My first post on Brand’s resignation is here. The Getty’s press release announcing his departure is now online.]

The Getty Museum’s PR people have just forwarded to me the statement from director Michael Brand to his staff, in which he expresses his great appreciation for their work and never once acknowledges the Getty Trust’s president and former director of the Art Institute of Chicago, James Wood. That coupled with Woods’ chilly brush-off of Brand in the museum’s press release (“I have every confidence that he will excel in whatever he chooses to do in the years ahead.”) leads me to guess that there has been tension between them. Over what, we’ve yet to learn.

Here’s Brand’s adieu to the staff, in full:

Dear Getty Museum Staff:

For those of you unable to attend this morning’s Museum all-staff
meeting, I wanted to write to you to let you know that after four
greatly rewarding years as Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, I am
stepping down as of January 29.

I was brought to the Getty in 2005 to provide a strategic vision and
strong leadership that would help the Museum solve a number of
outstanding problems and re-establish its reputation as one of the
world’s greatest art museums. I am extremely proud of what I have
been able to accomplish with you towards those goals over these past
four years. The contribution of the Museum Senior Staff team that I was
able to put together has been a key factor in this success.

The great professionalism of all of you who work for this Museum
continues to astound me. We have been through a number of significant
challenges together and, through them all, I have been constantly
impressed by your total dedication to serving our public and making the
Getty Museum the world leader it is today. None of what I have achieved
could have been possible without you and so for that, I must say a
heartfelt thank you.

With the successful re-opening of the Getty Villa in early 2006, I had
the privilege of being the first director of the Getty Museum to oversee
the full two-campus operation, and soon afterwards we opened the
spectacular new Center for Photographs at the Getty Center. These two
facilities will forever make their mark on both the Getty as a whole and
the city of Los Angeles.

I am especially pleased that we were able to break through a deadlock
and settle claims by Italy and Greece for certain objects in our
antiquities collection, and that we now enjoy a renewed relationship
with the governments of both those countries. The fruits of the
partnership with Italy have included the extraordinary loans to the
historic Bernini exhibition and the current loan of the phenomenal
Chimaera of Arezzo, all of which have brought this institution much
public and critical acclaim.

Brilliant new acquisitions over the past four years have made an
indelible mark in all areas of the Museum’s permanent collection, and
we have looked in new geographic directions for exhibitions and to new
technologies for the delivery of some of our inspiring educational
programs. The list of books published, and the quality of design in all
of our endeavors has been second to none.

Perhaps most of all, I am proud to have instilled a culture at the
Getty Museum in which nurturing differing points of view and promoting
robust debate are seen as an essential component of our creative

After a break in Los Angeles, I look forward to continuing the same
interests that have inspired me here at the Getty.

I am grateful that my good friend and colleague, David Bomford, has
agreed to serve as the Museum’s interim director until my successor is
hired. I will work with David to ensure a smooth transition through the
end of January.

Thank you so much for an extraordinary four years at the Getty Museum.
Tina and I, and our daughters Isabel and Claudia, will miss you all
greatly. I hope our paths cross many times in the future.


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