John Giurini has 'an exciting gig' at Getty

DOWNEY - As assistant director for public affairs of the Getty Museum, Downey resident John Giurini oversees all communications efforts for Getty's two Los Angeles locations, The Getty Center - the "dramatic" hilltop campus (overlooking the 405 Freeway) designed by the well-known architect Richard Meier - and The Getty Villa in Malibu - the museum's original location.The Getty Museum is the very heart of the J. P. Getty Trust, the educational trust with a global reach and which encompasses and guides three other groups: the Getty Foundation (grant awards), the Getty Research Institute (scholarly books, manuscripts, etc.) and the Getty Conservation Institute (art works conservation). From an original endowment of $1 billion to $2 billion, the trust now enjoys some $5 billion with which to promote/finance its operations. The museum houses a collection of European drawings, paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, as well as American and European photography. If the Louvre has its Mona Lisa, the Getty Museum boasts Van Gogh's 'Irises' and a bronze statue of Herakles (Herecules). Giurini's areas of responsibility include media relations, marketing and branding, strategic planning and community relations, as well as donor relations, for the museum. He began his association with the Getty organization in January of 2005, starting as assistant director in the communications department of the J. Paul Getty Trust, becoming head of public affairs for the Getty Museum in 2007. As such, he is also a member of the museum's senior management team. The Getty Museum's origins go back to 1954 when oil billionaire (Getty Oil) J. Paul Getty welcomed the public into his Malibu ranch house to see his collection of Greek and Roman antiquities,18th century French furniture and European paintings. Fascinated with the ancient Mediterranean, he later built a Roman-style villa in 1974; it was modeled after the first century A.D. Villa del Papiri at Herculaneum. Getty's death two years later and his bequest made possible the expansion of operations and facilities. The Getty Center was built in 1997 and, after undergoing renovation, the Getty Villa reopened in 2006 among such leading museums as the Louvre, the Vatican Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Modern in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It serves some 1.5 million visitors a year. Other leading art museums in the L.A. area include Norton Simon, the Huntington Museum, the L.A. County Museum of Art, MOCA and UCLA's Hammer Museum. Despite a common perception, Giurini says going to the Getty Center shouldn't pose a problem. Except when special events are being held, parking is usually plentiful, he says. Giurini, holder of a BA in political science from UCLA (1984) and a master's from Rutgers (1986), and who has had years of PR consulting experience as both company owner and as an employee at a few Los Angeles communications consulting firms before joining Getty, says the Getty Museum's audience has been identified as threefold: one-third are regulars, another third pays a visit and doesn't return, and the remaining third with no iota of interest in ever going to the museum. The museum's current marketing and promotional strategy focuses on how to bring back the second group. He says the museum's media strategy, given its worldwide prominence, is not at present that sophisticated or hard-hitting, relying mostly on specialized marketing blitzes, and even utilizing 'spot' advertising in specialty movie theatres like Laemmle. But although its brand resonates around the world, Giurini says Getty still has to identify and pay attention to audiences that are being underserved. Travel to drum up donor business takes him to art centers such as New York, Chicago and overseas, picking up bits of knowledge and information along the way about facets of the vast art universe. Born in Chicago, Giurini says his forebears come from the city of Pula, in the Brescia area of northern Italy. His mother and sister also live in Downey, while a brother lives in Boston. Summing up his Getty career, he says, "It's been an exciting gig."

********** Published: March 31, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 50