The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today that Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, will retire at the end of December 2018 after more than three decades of leadership roles at the J. Paul Getty Trust, including leading the Getty’s grantmaking programs since 1989.
As Foundation director, Marrow oversees all the grantmaking activity in the areas of art history, conservation, museums, and professional development, as well as grants administration for all of the programs and departments of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
“No one has contributed more to the life and mission of the Getty than Deborah,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “She has provided inspiring leadership in almost every aspect of the Getty, in roles including as director of the Getty Foundation, acting director of the Getty Research Institute and as interim president of the Getty Trust. She brought clarity and vision and selfless dedication to her work, and made loyal professional friends around the world.”
Cuno noted that one of Marrow’s proudest accomplishments was the creation of the Getty’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program, which over 26 years has dedicated over $13 million to support more than 3,300 internships at 160 local arts institutions. “She led the Getty’s effort to increase staff diversity in museums and visual arts organizations. In recognition of Deborah’s dedication to the Getty and its mission, the Board of Trustees has renamed the internship program in her honor as the Getty Marrow Multicultural Internship program,” Cuno announced.
After she steps down from her role leading the Getty Foundation, Marrow will take a year sabbatical and will be available to assist in the transition. Upon her official retirement at the end of her sabbatical in January 2020, she will assume the title of director emerita of the Getty Foundation. An international search will immediately be launched for a new director of the Getty Foundation.
Marrow joined the Getty in 1983 as publications coordinator, and as director has guided the Trust’s philanthropic activity since 1989, when it was known as the Getty Grant Program. In 2004, she became director of its successor, the Getty Foundation. In 2000, she assumed the additional role of dean for external relations for the Getty. In 1999-2000 she served as acting director of the Getty Research Institute. And she twice served as interim president of the Getty Trust, in 2006-2007 and again in 2010-2011.
Under Marrow’s leadership, the Getty Foundation has awarded nearly 8,000 grants in over 180 countries. The grantmaking philosophy of the Foundation involves a broad and inclusive definition of art, and its grantmaking process includes a careful consultation with members of the Getty’s fields. It awards grants large and small to advance public understanding of art and scholarly inquiry, supporting research and conservation. The Foundation also is focused on promoting diversity in the arts and in connecting scholarly communities around the world to work on common cultural issues.
The Foundation’s largest initiative during Marrow’s tenure was Pacific Standard Time, which awarded approximately $28 million in grants to dozens of cultural institutions across Southern California to tell the story of the Los Angeles art scene. Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980 highlighted contemporary art in post-World War II Los Angeles and involved dozens of museum exhibitions, a performance art festival, public programming and more than 100 gallery shows. PST: LA/LA extended that unprecedented collaborative model to fund exhibitions and scholarly research focused on Latin American and U.S. Latino art throughout Southern California. In addition to generating attention to a little studied field, PST: LA/LA involved nearly 2.8 million participants, supported 4,080 jobs and generated $430 million in economic output across Southern California, according to a report prepared by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Other major Getty Foundation initiatives have included the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (2008–2014), which helped museums transition their collections into digital formats that can be readily shared. Keeping It Modern is an initiative focused on the preservation of 20th-century architecture around the world. Connecting Art Histories brings together international scholars across national and regional borders for sustained intellectual exchange.
The Panel Paintings Initiative trained a new generation of experts and expanded the number of skilled conservators worldwide who know how to preserve works of art created on wood panels, enabling them to protect some of the most valued masterpieces from the early Renaissance to the late 17th century. The Foundation has awarded other international grants through Mosaikon, a joint effort with the Getty Conservation Institute and external partners ICCM and ICCROM to improve the care and presentation of ancient mosaics across the Mediterranean Basin.
Foundation funding programs have also responded to major world events. The Central and Eastern European Initiative supported scholars and libraries in the region after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Closer to home, the Foundation-supported Fund for New Orleans provided assistance to the city’s cultural institutions as they recovered from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
“It has been an honor and privilege, to work with so many global arts organizations and people around the world, and to witness the contributions of our grantees in advancing the international understanding of the visual arts,” Marrow said. “It will be very hard to leave the Getty, but it has been gratifying to work with the many talented colleagues at all the Getty programs. Together we have accomplished so much. The creative Foundation staff is generating many more ideas for future ways in which the Getty can elevate the field. A great team is in place at the Foundation, and I am optimistic about what they can do going forward.”
Marrow cited the ongoing work of the Foundation’s newest initiatives, including Conserving Canvas and The Paper Project, in advancing conservation expertise to preserve paintings on canvas and the curation of prints and drawings in the 21st century, respectively.
“I am grateful for the efforts of so many colleagues in bringing all of the Foundation’s critically important initiatives to fruition,” Marrow said. “I know that with their continued dedication and energy, the great work of the Getty Foundation will continue unabated.”