The J. Paul Getty Trust on Monday announced the hiring of a Virginia museum director as director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and its Malibu location, Getty Villa, which is scheduled to open early next year.
Michael Brand, who joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts five years ago after serving as assistant director of the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, will also work with the directors of the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute.
In announcing Brand’s appointment, the trust’s president and chief executive, Barry Munitz, said he was “especially impressed with his commitment to community outreach.”
William Griswold is acting director but has accepted a position as president and director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Griswold is expected to take the new position on Oct. 1. The director job at the Getty became available after Deborah Gribbon resigned last October, citing philosophical differences with Munitz.
Munitz has been under fire in recent months for what some consider an excessive compensation package. That includes frequent first-class travel for him and his wife, a Porsche Cayenne SUV that is paid for by the trust, and total compensation of around $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The California Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into the trust’s financial practices earlier this month. As a non-profit organization, the trust is tax-exempt.
Munitz said Brand brings experience in leading multiple boards at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where he spearheaded a $158 million capital campaign to expand the museum.
With the opening of the Getty Villa next year, “we need someone to decide what it becomes, who is the audience, how we use the objects,” Munitz said. “This is the first time that anyone has been hired at the Getty to be director when two sites are open. It’s tricky to run one site. These are two big complicated sites serving different parts of the city.”
He declined to disclose Brand’s salary.
He also declined to comment about the recent investigations into the museum’s finances. Getty officials have said they are cooperating with the state Attorney General’s Office and have denied that compensation and benefits paid to Munitz were illegal.
Munitz did say that the investigations did not impede the museum’s ability to hire the candidate of choice.
“That tells us something about the impact,” he said. “We’re doing all our work and moving forward, and it didn’t disrupt the search process in any way.”