Deborah Gribbon appointed Director of J. Paul Getty Museum and Vice President of Getty Trust
John Walsh to Retire as Director and Vice President on September 30, 2000
June 19, 2000
Los Angeles-Barry Munitz, President and CEO of the Getty Trust, announced today that Deborah Gribbon, currently Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum, will assume the position of Museum Director and Vice President of the Getty Trust effective October 1, 2000. John Walsh, who currently holds those positions, will retire on September 30, 2000.
Munitz commented, "Deborah Gribbon is an extraordinary leader who is overwhelmingly qualified to lead the Museum and to serve as Vice President of the Trust. She succeeds John Walsh who has done so much to make our Museum the success it is today. The Getty Museum-collections, staff, activities-is built on John's high standards. In addition, he has helped me re-shape the Getty into a more integrated, cohesive, and effective organization since I arrived two years ago. John's retirement was structured over a two-year period, and I am delighted that we have prepared carefully for a smooth transition."
Robert Erburu, Chairman of the Getty Board of Trustees, commented, "It's been especially satisfying for me, as I leave the chairmanship of the Getty Board, to have had a hand in naming the new Museum Director. It is not easy to replace John Walsh, but fortunately in Deborah Gribbon we have a person of outstanding taste and intellect. She has earned the complete confidence of the Board of Trustees."
Walsh, who is 62, commented, "No one could be happier than I at this moment. I've been at the Getty for 17 years, and this is the perfect time to depart. Barry Munitz and I have been working carefully over a considerable length of time on my succession plans, and I am delighted to welcome a new leader to execute the Trust's and the Museum's strategic plans. The Museum and Trust are stronger than ever. Deborah Gribbon will be a superb Director, and I know that she will lead the institution and its marvelous staff to greater excellence.
"I'm thrilled to take on this responsibility," said Gribbon. "We have achieved a great deal in the last 17 years, the Museum has an outstanding staff, and our future is filled with promise. I am determined to continue to build the collection and strengthen our educational efforts. I'm pleased to have the support of Barry Munitz and the Board in this critical area. The Getty Center has already become an important part of the life of this city and we eagerly anticipate re-opening the Villa. John Walsh has led the Museum to remarkable achievement-I'm grateful to have a chance to chart our course for the coming years."
Walsh came to the Getty in 1983 at the invitation of President and CEO Harold M. Williams. He had been a paintings curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and had taught at Columbia and Harvard. At the time of his arrival, the Getty Museum was housed in the reconstructed Roman villa built for J. Paul Getty near Pacific Palisades. Income from Getty's bequest (then $1.2 billion) had just become available, and the Museum under Walsh began a massive campaign of buying works of art, strengthening the staff, and planning a new museum. More than 4,200 art objects were acquired, along with some 70,000 photographs, which comprise the great majority of the works that Getty visitors see in permanent collection galleries and changing exhibitions. In addition, the number of exhibitions, educational programs, and publications all expanded dramatically, and the staff grew. During this same time Walsh continued to build his reputation as a scholar and a writer, publishing the monograph Jan Steen: The Drawing Lesson (1996), part of the Getty Museum Studies on Art series, as well as numerous articles.
Gribbon, 52, was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Wellesley College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received a Ph.D. in fine arts at Harvard University, where she held a Rousseau Fellowship and taught the history of art. In 1976 she became Curator of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. At the Gardner Museum she oversaw the collections, supervised research and scholarly symposia, undertook renovations, and edited the annual journal Fenway Court.
Gribbon began at the Getty Museum in 1984 as Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs. She has been responsible for all aspects of the art collection and its care, including the growth of the curatorial and conservation departments, the creation of a collections management system, the design and installation of the new galleries of the Getty Museum, the launch of an extensive program of exhibitions, and the creation of the Museum's innovative educational programs. She was made Deputy Director and Chief Curator in 1998 and has been responsible since then for the day-to-day management of the Museum. A specialist in French 19th-century paintings, she is the author of various articles and was co-author, with Walsh, of the recently published The J. Paul Getty Museum and its Collections: A Museum for the New Century.
John Walsh, Deborah Gribbon, and the Museum staff devised a program for the creation of a new museum at the Getty Center and collaborated with architect Richard Meier. The goal was to create sympathetic settings for works of art, a refreshing environment that encourages receptivity, and many educational opportunities. The Museum was an instantaneous success with the public. There have been approximately 4 million visitors since the December 1997 opening; attendance averages about 1.5 million per year, almost four times the previous figure.
A plan for the renovation of the Getty Villa and the creation of a museum of antiquities, as well as a center for conservation and scholarship, was brought to completion. Designed by the Boston firm of Machado & Silvetti, the renovation is the Getty's next major project. When it reopens in 2002, the Villa will serve another 400,000 visitors annually.
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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.
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