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Home » AO Breaking News: James Cuno resigns as director of the Art Institute of Chicago to lead the J. Paul Getty Trust

AO Breaking News: James Cuno resigns as director of the Art Institute of Chicago to lead the J. Paul Getty Trust

May 9th, 2011


James Cuno, who resigned this morning from the Art Institute of Chicago to become President/CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Image via ArtDaily

Earlier this morning, James Cuno announced in an email to the staff of the Art Institute of Chicago that he would be leaving his post as the museum’s director to become the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Cuno, who has been at the helm of the Art Institute for seven years, is an accomplished leader: he has seen the museum through the addition of a new wing and has raised museum attendance by 33 per cent. Previously, Cuno has been director of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, the Harvard University Art Museums, whose budget and staff he doubled in his 12-year reign, Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art, and UCLA’s Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.


The Getty Center. Image via Artinfo.

More text and images after the jump…

In Cuno’s email announcement he wrote, “I would never have left the Art Institute for another museum. Only an institution like the Getty Trust could have convinced me to leave.” The 60-year-old Cuno has long been interested in issues of cultural heritage, which this new role will allow him to delve into. June 30th marks his last day at his current post.

In the Getty’s press release, Chair of the Getty’s Board of Trustees Mark S. Siegel is quoted as saying, “[Cuno]‘s background as a scholar and arts leader, and as a proven executive at major arts institutions in the United States and Great Britain, made him an ideal candidate to lead the J. Paul Getty Trust.” The trust, which encompasses the Getty Villa, the Research Institute, the Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation, has been through tough times recently and has undergone major cuts to staff and budget. Until Cuno was appointed, director of the Getty Foundation Dr. Deborah Marrow served as interim president and CEO, and she will resume her former position on Cuno’s arrival in August. The Trust’s decision marks the end of a long-awaited appointment.

Not everyone is a supporter of the choice. Artinfo’s Benjamin Genocchio weighed in on the Getty’s decision, writing that the decision “represents the beginning of yet another disastrous chapter in the history of this poorly-run, scandal-plagued Los Angeles institution. It is a perfect recipe for internal conflict and tension.” He recalls the dramatic events of 2010, in which the Getty’s former director James Wood, who had only been at the helm of the Trust for four years, effectively fired the Getty Museum director Michael Brand and then passed away shortly after. Wood was also a former director at the Art Institute of Chicago, and according to the New York Times, “Mr. Wood was the first person with a deep background in art and museum administration to serve as president of the Getty Trust since its formation in 1982.” Although Cuno is a seasoned museum director, Genocchio has his doubts, declaring, “Given the Getty’s resources, this choice is frankly insane.”


Cuno, in the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago. Image courtesy LA Times.

- J. Lindblad

Related Links:

AIC’s James Cuno to Lead Getty Trust [Modern Art Notes]
Getty Trust’s Pick for President Surprises Art World [NY Times]
Why the Getty’s Choice of James Cuno as CEO is Clueless [ArtInfo]
Getty Trust Names James Cuno President and Chief Executive — now why not Getty Museum Director? [LA Times]
James N. Wood, President of the Getty Trust, Dies at 69 [New York Times]
J. Paul Getty Trust [Getty]

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