Published: August 7, 2017
LOS ANGELES – Harold Marvin Williams, the founding president and chief executive officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust, who served in that position from 1981 to 1998, died July 30. He was 89.
Williams’ vision led to the creation of the Getty as a multifaceted institution devoted to scholarship, conservation, education and the presentation of the visual arts.
“The Getty today – its global reach and its Southern California presence – is a legacy of Harold M. Williams. He shall be remembered for his enormous contributions to the arts and humanities,” said Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chairman of the Getty Trust board.
Selected to lead the Getty as the board of trustees sought to determine how best to use the considerable resources left by founder J. Paul Getty, Williams and Nancy Englander, the Getty’s director of program planning and analysis, who later became his wife, led the formation of the Getty as an interdisciplinary center for learning and a resource to the world of art and art history. It was Harold Williams who also conceived of the Getty Center, home to the Getty’s four operating programs, and now one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.
“Harold envisioned and then built the Getty Center as a museum, library, laboratories and public spaces for the greater appreciation, understanding and conservation of the world’s artistic legacy. We are all deeply in his debt,” said James Cuno.
Williams retired as president and chief executive officer soon after the Getty Center opened in 1997, but he continued to maintain an office at the Getty Center and showed a lively interest in the work of the Getty, attending meetings and events. He was an active and respected member of the Getty community for the rest of his life.
Williams was honored by the Getty Trustees in 2013, together with Nancy, when they were the recipients of the inaugural J. Paul Getty Medal.
A memorial service is planned for the fall.
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