Getty President Condemns ‘Ill-Advised, Unnecessary, and Destructive’ Travel Ban

James Cuno issued a blunt statement on the Getty's blog.

James Cuno, President and CEO, The J. Paul Getty Trust speaks during the Pacific Standard Time press conference held at the Getty Center on September 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Ryan Miller/WireImage.
James Cuno, President and CEO, The J. Paul Getty Trust speaks during the Pacific Standard Time press conference held at the Getty Center on September 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Ryan Miller/WireImage.

The President’s travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries continues to roil the country. With missions dedicated to cultural exchange, large art institutions were immediately impacted, with the heads of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art speaking to the New York Times over the weekend about the effect the executive order would have on their missions.

On Monday, the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization, issued the following statement on behalf of its 242 members:

AAMD member museums share art from across time and cultures, and convene artists, researchers, educators, students and visitors from countries around the globe. We will always welcome all people regardless of their religion or country of origin. We are deeply concerned that with the current executive order, artistic and scholarly collaborations could now be in jeopardy, just at the moment when cultural exchange and understanding are more important than ever.

At the local level, representatives of institutions across the country, including Jill Snyder, the director of MOCA Cleveland, and Sabiha Al Khemir, the senior advisor on Islamic art at the Dallas Museum of Art, have spoken to the press about the harmful climate created by the travel ban.

The Getty Center, taken November 24, 2006 by Brian Davis. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Getty Center, taken November 24, 2006 by Brian Davis. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday, Getty Institute president James Cuno issued a statement through the Getty’s Iris blog, likely highest profile example of an art institution taking a stand on the matter. The post is bluntly titled “The Travel Ban Is Just Wrong.” Below is Cuno’s statement in full:

The recent executive order barring entry into the United States from citizens of seven nations is antithetical to the values of the Getty, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Curiosity, diversity, and tolerance are the core values of the humanities, values that require the free movement of people and ideas. That’s why, for years, the Getty has supported scholars, scientists, and other professionals from around the world—including from the targeted nations—in pursuing research and study here with us. It’s also why we are proud to welcome people of all faiths, colors, ethnicities, and nationalities into the Getty community.

If it continues, the travel ban will extract a high human cost in lost freedoms, livelihoods, and careers, as well as a high social cost in lost innovation and discovery. It may have a profoundly adverse effect on important work the Getty is pursuing in the Middle East, even in the midst of turmoil there, to protect and preserve the world’s cultural heritage. It will have a corrosive effect on scholarly exchange with the United States and on the stature of American cultural and educational institutions.

We believe the order is ill-advised, unnecessary, and destructive. The Getty stands against it and adds its voice in favor of established American principles of freedom and engagement.


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