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Getty to cut 34 at museum unit

No reductions are planned in exhibits or public programs.

May 01, 2012|Mike Boehm
  • Jim Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in Los Angeles on the grounds of the museum.
Jim Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in Los Angeles on the… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

The J. Paul Getty Trust announced Monday that it was cutting 34 jobs in its museum division, with the expected annual savings of $4.3 million to be redirected to art acquisitions.

There will be no reductions in the exhibition schedule or public programs, the Getty said, and no cuts to curatorial and art-conservation staffs.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, May 09, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 2 inches; 88 words Type of Material: Correction
Getty cuts: In the May 1 Calendar section, an article about the J. Paul Getty Trust's plans to cut 34 jobs in its museum division, including the staff teachers who lead gallery tours, said that according to the Getty's most recent tax return, 132 tours guided by such teachers were given in 2009-10 at the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa antiquities museum near Malibu. That figure reflects only specially arranged tours and does not include regular tours for visiting school groups and the general public.

"Everything the museum does cascades from its collection," James Cuno, the Getty's president and chief executive, said in an interview. "The stronger the collection one has, the better one can do everything else."

The museum's education department will take the brunt of the cuts to be implemented by May 9, its staff falling from 51 employees to 32.

Volunteer docents, trained by the remaining professional staff, will replace the paid teachers who had led tours of the galleries by students and other groups of visitors. "I think that was unique to the Getty," Cuno said, so reassigning the tours to volunteers would bring it in line with the standard practice at other museums.

Overall museum staff will drop from 394 to 360, a nearly 9% cut.

The museum is part of J. Paul Getty Trust, which also includes security, maintenance and financial operations, and professional and office staffs for a grant-making wing and special institutes for art research and art conservation. With the museum division layoffs, overall employment will fall from 1,287 to 1,253, a reduction of 2.6%. Three years ago, the total number of jobs and vacant spots eligible to be filled stood at 1,464.

According to the Getty's most recent tax return, 132 tours guided by teachers were given in 2009-10 at the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa antiquities museum near Malibu. Cuno said the number of tours -- led by volunteers rather than paid teachers -- is expected to increase.

Other cuts, a Getty spokeswoman said, include an administrator at the Getty Villa, five employees who design exhibition layouts or help install exhibitions, three visitors services staffers and six employees in "imaging services," the department that had photographed collection items and put them online. Jobs in imaging services will be re-envisioned, Cuno said, with a new emphasis on providing digital content that visitors can access on computers and hand-held devices. Audio tours that had cost $5 will be free starting July 1.

The Getty announced that 10 of the layoffs would be effective Wednesday and, in a memo Cuno sent to employees, called for an additional 24 voluntary exits in the targeted departments by May 7. If there aren't enough volunteers, management will decide who goes.

The Getty's budgets are dictated by the investment returns of its huge but nevertheless diminished endowment, which stood at $5.6 billion in mid-2011 -- down $1 billion from its pre-recession peak in mid-2007. Spending has fallen from $367.5 million in 2007-08, when the budget was determined by the Getty's pre-recession wealth, to $269.8 million in 2010-11, according to Getty tax returns and financial statements.

Earlier this month, the Getty announced the hiring of the first fund-raising executive in its 30-year history, in a bid to move beyond near-total reliance on how its investments perform.

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mike.boehm@latimes.com

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