First, the LA Times...
August 16, 2005
The troubled J. Paul Getty Museum's highly publicized search for a leader came to an end Monday with the appointment of Michael Brand, a Harvard-educated Australian who has headed the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond for the last five years.
Brand, 47, will take charge of the Los Angeles museum Dec. 1, succeeding Deborah Gribbon, who resigned in October, citing "critical differences" with Barry Munitz, president and chief executive of the umbrella Getty Trust.
Considered a rising star in the art world and highly regarded among his peers, Brand has compiled an impressive resume but one that might not seem suited to the Getty's needs.
His academic specialty is Indian art, a field that the Getty Museum does not collect. One of his primary achievements at the Virginia museum was having spearheaded a successful capital campaign for expansion, a skill that might not seem to be in great demand at the wealthy California museum but that Munitz has said will be important.
Brand's name emerged amid speculation about possible candidates, including Maxwell Anderson, former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum in London and former director of the National Gallery there.
And now the New York Times...
Mr. Brand, a native of Australia and an expert on Indian art and architecture, inherits a museum with a $5 billion endowment and world-class collections of antiquities, photography and illuminated manuscripts. Many in the art world, however, consider its other artistic holdings, though extensive, to lack a strong aesthetic vision and identity.
Mr. Brand will assume significant fund-raising duties that neither of his predecessors had, Mr. Munitz said. Until recently, the Getty Trust has not had to raise money and has simply bought many of the objects it coveted. But with the trust's investment income shrinking, museum expenses rising and prices of art soaring, the trust and museum have for the first time begun to seek donations of money and art objects, he said.
That task will fall largely to Mr. Brand, Mr. Munitz said."The fundamental burden should rest with the museum director supported by trust president, not the other way around," he said.
In other words, Mr. Brand now has to go out in public with a tin cup to support Barry's lifestyle. And...
In accepting the appointment, Mr. Brand said that he hoped not only to add to the museum's collection but also to make the center more accessible to the public. "I am looking forward to further building the Getty's renowned collection and to further expanding the way we use it as the central part of our mission of outreach and service to our various communities."
Mr. Munitz said that Mr. Brand was the first choice among four finalists identified by the museum's board and search committee. He declined to name the other candidates but said that none of the serious contenders for the post turned the Getty down.
Mr. Munitz said that Mr. Brand's background made him a good fit for a potential shift in orientation by the museum to the art and cultures of Asia and Latin America.
"To get our strongest candidate with all of the noise out there tells you something about how our situation is viewed by professionals in the field," Mr. Munitz said. He said that the museum staff received Mr. Brand warmly when he introduced him on Monday morning. "There was a very warm applauding reception," Mr. Munitz said. "Nobody stood up and asked us if we were out of our minds."
Ok - now let's translate these statements into English. The new director of the Getty currently runs a very small regional museum, but he is highly thought of among other museum professionals. Clear enough.
Next, Madman Muntz, pardon me, I mean the esteemed Mr. Munitz, stated that no serious contender for the position had turned down the job.
Excuse me... but exactly why would Munitz say that no 'serious' contender had turned down the job - if no one at all had turned down the position? Why would he not just say that no one - period - had turned down the job?
The only semantical explanation seems to be that they first quietly, unofficially, offered the job to a variety of non-serious candidates (such as people actually qualified for the job, but who knew better than to touch anything associated with Barry Munitz with a ten foot Canaletto, making them 'non-serious' candidates) - all of whom quietly - and 'unofficially' - turned them down - before they... finally... offered the job to Mr. Brand.
Next comes my favorite part. To Mr. Munitz's evident shock - when the staff was introduced to the new boss they will report to - not a single one of the staff asked them if they had lost their minds in hiring him. I mean - what an unimaginable triumph! And then - to Munitz's even further amazement - not even one staff member pulled out a gun - and shot holes in their new boss! Great job, Barry!
Plus let us not forget Munitz's statement that Michael Brand was the strongest of all candidates for the job.
And how can we doubt that?
I mean, on one side they had... the director of a small, obscure, regional museum in Virgina (and a man whose field is not even collected by the Getty) while on the other side - all they had were some pathetic directors who had run backwater museums like the Art Gallery of Ontario - one of the ten largest art museums in North America, the Whitney Museum in New York and, of course, a hopelessly unqualified 'candidate' (if you can even call him... a 'candidate') who ran both the British Museum and the National Gallery in London!
My God - what a fraud to even submit his name! Shame! Shame!
Yup - we got the strongest candidate, all right!