Associates Breakfast with James Wood, President and CEO, J. Paul Getty Trust

March 4, 2008

Santa Monica



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California Center


Since taking over the helm of the J. Paul Getty Trust last year, James Wood has faced some extraordinary challenges, including legal disputes that many museums face over the source of their antiquities.

But his biggest challenge, he told Milken Institute Associates, is trying to figure out what the Getty should be and how it fits in with the culture of Los Angeles. Is it a local institution or a global one? Should it be more like a Greek temple or a Roman piazza?

With more than 1.6 million visitors each year at its two locations - the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in Malibu - the facility is one of the most visited museums in the world, Wood said.

"It's a strangely populist destination," he said.

With the completion of renovations at the Getty Villa, the focus will no longer be on building, but on improving the experience of visitors through its art, said Wood, adding that "we're at a point where a certain maturation is a good thing."

Wood joined the Getty in 2007, after serving for more than two decades as director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the nation's premier museums. Prior to that, he was the director of the St. Louis Museum of Art, an adjunct professor of art history at SUNY-Buffalo and associate director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. He also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.