James Cuno to leave Chicago's Art Institute for L.A.'s Getty Trust

May 9, 2011

Steve Edwards

(Getty/David McNew)
As incoming president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, James Cuno will oversee the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles-based J.Paul Getty Trust has hired away the Art Institute of Chicago's James Cuno to be its new President and CEO.  The Trust made its announcement on Monday.

Cuno, 60, will oversee four major programs of the trust, including its acclaimed Richard Meier-designed hilltop art museum known as the Getty Center.

Since 2004, Cuno has served as President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, the renowned encyclopedic museum of art and home to one of the finest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works in the world.

While at the Art Institute, Cuno presided over the effort to build and open the museum's new Modern Wing, which opened to the public in 2009 and was designed by famed architect Renzo Piano.  The announcement of Cuno's hiring by the Getty Trust comes nearly two years to the day after the Modern Wing officially opened its doors.

In addition, Cuno expanded the museum's exhibition space, hired new chairs of the Asian art department and the department of architecture and design, and added a curator of Indian and Southeast Asian art. 

"He brought with him a real sense of energy and urgency to the programming of the museum," said Erin Hogan, director of public affairs and communications for the Art Institute.

This fall, the University of Chicago Press will publish his new book Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum.

Prior to the Art Institute, Cuno was the director and professor of the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, and led the art museums at Harvard University and Dartmouth College.  He was an assistant professor of art at Vassar College during the mid-eighties and later directed the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at UCLA.

“Jim’s background as a scholar and arts leader, and as a proven executive at major arts institutions in the United States and Great Britain, made him an ideal candidate to lead the J. Paul Getty Trust,” said Mark S. Siegel, chairman of the Getty's Board of Trustees.

Cuno's path follows that of his predecessor at the Art Institute, the late long-time director James Wood.  Wood retired from the Art Institute, only to be lured out of retirement to lead the Getty Trust. 

Hogan says when Wood passed away suddenly last July, it was hardly a surprise that the Getty would come calling for Cuno.

"Everybody is really thrilled for Jim," said Hogan. "At the same time, we'll really miss Jim."

Cuno will take over leadership of the Getty on August 1st.