The Getty Trust, the Country’s Richest Arts Organization, Has Named Academic Katherine Fleming as Its New Director

Fleming comes to the Getty from NYU, where she served as provost for the past six years.

Katherine Fleming was named as the next president and CEO of the Getty Trust. Photo © Samuel Stuart Hollenshead, Image courtesy New York University
Katherine Fleming was named as the next president and CEO of the Getty Trust.
Photo © Samuel Stuart Hollenshead, Image courtesy New York University

The world’s wealthiest art institution has a new leader. The Getty Trust chose Katherine Fleming, the provost of New York University, as its next president and CEO. Fleming will replace James Cuno, who led the institution for more than a decade and will retire this summer.  

With an endowment of $9.2 billion, the Getty is one of the largest and most influential cultural organizations in the country. (Its endowment is bigger than that of most universities, including NYU.)

A scholar of Mediterranean history, religion, and culture, Fleming has served as NYU’s chief academic officer since 2016. As CEO, she will oversee all local, national, and global operations for the 1,400-employee Getty Trust and its four organizations: the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. The museum operates two locations, the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the antiquities-focused Getty Villa in Malibu.

Fleming is the latest in a string of women recently tapped to lead major museums. Last year, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art named Johanna Burton as director, the Louvre appointed Laurence des Cars, and Min Jung Kim was chosen to lead the Saint Louis Art Museum. None of these institutions had ever before had a female director. 

Deborah Marrow, the director of the Getty Foundation, led the Getty on an interim basis twice during its history, but Katherine Fleming is the first woman to be appointed president and CEO.

Board chair David Lee said that in addition to being a “distinguished scholar and educator,” Fleming is a “visionary experienced leader with an extensive understanding of global cultures and their importance in uniting all of us, making her the ideal leader at this critical moment in our world.”

Fleming’s opening statement suggested that environmental issues will inform her work at the Getty. The organization’s mission, she said, “is more vitally important than ever, as environmental degradation and global upheaval threaten the world’s artistic and cultural heritage in unprecedented ways.”

Fleming earned her B.A. in religion from Barnard College in 1988, her M.A. in religion from the University of Chicago in 1989, and her PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995. She began her academic career in Southern California in the 1990s, working as a lecturer at Cal State San Bernardino, UC Riverside, Loyola Marymount University, and UCLA before joining NYU.

Fleming will join the Getty on August 1.

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