Wood to Take Over J. Paul Getty Trust

The Associated Press
Monday, December 4, 2006; 6:00 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Former Art Institute of Chicago president James N. Wood will take over as chief of the J. Paul Getty Trust with a quest to strengthen the Getty Museum's reputation and put its looted treasures scandal behind it.

Wood, selected by Getty trustees after a search that began in May, takes over leadership of the Getty Trust in February from Getty Foundation director Deborah Marrow, the interim president since February 2006.

Wood, 65, said by telephone after Monday's announcement that he hopes to reinforce the Getty's "core mission and commitment to the visual arts" in the four Getty programs.

The trust includes the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute. The trust operates from the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The troubled Getty Museum announced last month that it was returning 26 ancient artworks that Italy contended were looted or smuggled from the country.

"I'm looking forward to moving ahead. There are a lot of challenges, but they are now in the rearview mirror," Wood said, adding he didn't plan on immediate changes. "I'm going to spend a lot of time listening."

Wood, who is moving to Los Angeles from Rhode Island, served as director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1980 to 2004 and was director of The St. Louis Art Museum from 1975 to 1980.

Louise Bryson, trustees chair and head of the search committee, said in a statement that Wood will strengthen the Getty's position internationally as a pre-eminent arts institution.

"With his background at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he not only led two decades of growth in the collections, exhibits and staff, but also enhanced and fostered community relations and strengthened the educational mission, Jim is ideally suited to lead the Getty into the future," Bryson said.

Getty trustees are grateful for Marrow's term as interim president and chief executive officer, Bryson said. Marrow will resume her position as director of the Getty Foundation.

"Deborah stepped into the interim position at a difficult moment in the Getty's history. She has done a wonderful job of putting negative issues behind us, implementing a strong new approach to the way the Getty is governed, improving communications and refocusing attention on the work of the Getty," Bryson said.

Italy has campaigned to recover antiquities it maintains were sold illegally to museums worldwide. Italy demanded Getty return more than 40 works, and the museum agreed Nov. 21 to return 26 allegedly looted antiquities.

Rome called it unilateral and inadequate.

Italy's campaign includes the prosecution of former Getty curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht, who are on trial in Rome for allegedly receiving archaeological treasures stolen from private collections or dug up illicitly. They deny wrongdoing.

Under a 1939 law, all antiquities found in Italy must be turned over to the state.


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