Oilman J. Paul Getty opened a small antiquities museum in 1954. Today the Getty Trust operates the $1 billion Getty Center, a hilltop haven that focuses on art and humanities. Among the world's wealthiest art institutions, it is best known for the J. Paul Getty Museum, which primarily displays pre-20th-century works of art by Rembrandt and van Gogh, among others. The center also houses the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and institutes dedicated to art history and museum management. In addition, the trust supports the arts through grants made by the Getty Foundation. The trust received $1.2 billion from Getty's estate in 1982 and has more than tripled that figure in recent years.
Michael Brand, formerly the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, resigned his post -- one of the top jobs on the nation's art scene -- in January 2010 (10 months shy of the end of his five-year contract). Brand led the institution in the aftermath of twin scandals -- involving the museum's ex-CEO Barry Munitz and former antiquities curator Marion True over allegedly stolen antiquities. Under Brand, the Getty adopted stringent new policies designed to prevent further acquisitions of ancient art without solid documentation. David Bomford, associate director of collections, is serving as acting director until a successor is named.
Noteworthy purchases since the executive changeover, the trust expanded its collection in February 2011 through an agreement with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The pair acquired 2,000 photographs taken by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, including the artist's archives. The collection is valued at more than $30 million. In September, the museum acquired the Abbey Bible, an Italian illuminated manuscript that exemplifies the highest achievements of the Gothic era. – less