An intimate history of the Getty Museum from its early relatively modest days until it unexpectedly received the endowment that made it the world’s wealthiest museum and eventually a private foundation of worldwide influence.
Following the death of Getty in 1976 it was necessary to adapt the institution to radically different circumstances and much higher expectations, virtually none of which had been anticipated. This evolution was guided by some of the most prominent managers and historians available, but was also marred by some unfortunate and widely publicized mis-steps that made the transition unusually erratic.
Institutional histories are normally written and published by the institutions themselves, with the result that its blunders or mistakes are normally glossed over. The present memoir is meant to be an objective and relatively frank appraisal of the history of this exceptional institution by an early participant in the process.