Getty Shifts Gears

Interesting story by Mike Boehm in today’s LA Times (via) on the decision by the Getty Trust to cut its operating budget by 25% in the coming year.  The cuts are in response to losses in investments which have totalled $1.5 billion since July:

Its portfolio dropped 25% during the last half of 2008, from $6 billion to $4.5 billion. That still dwarfs the $2.1-billion endowment of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which announced plans Thursday to lay off 10% of its workforce, partly because of an endowment loss approaching 28%.

The reductions at the Getty should focus on operations that can easily expand again, Wood said Friday. Cuts may well be in store for temporary exhibitions, which have totaled more than 20 a year. The Getty may also defer buying new works for its collections of ancient art, European art from before the 20th century, illuminated manuscripts and photography.

Nearly any organization with an endowment of any kind is surely making some difficult decisions.  But the Getty has always been the financial giant among North American museums; and in some cases that purchasing power got it into some difficult situations with nations of origin when it purchased or acquired antiquities.  

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