THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST has a new board member. Mary Schmidt Campbell joined the board of trustees of the Los Angeles-based philanthropic institution. Campbell is the president of Spelman College in Atlanta and author of “An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden.” The Getty made the announcement July 10.

The Trust encompasses the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. Last year, GRI announced a major African American Art History Initiative, focused on collecting, studying, and disseminating African American art history. A central aspect of the work involves collaborations with other institutions, including Spelman.

Getty leaders praised Campbell’s arrival. “Her wealth of experience and leadership in the arts and philanthropy make her an invaluable addition,” board chair David Lee said in a statement. Maria Hummer-Tuttle, former chair of the board, said: “We are fortunate indeed that she has made the commitment to bring her considerable skills and expertise to the Board.”

Describing Campbell as “a renowned educational leader and scholar,” James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty noted her deep involvement in the development of the African American History Initiative and said, “We are thrilled to have her on the Board.”

Getty leaders praised Campbell’s arrival. “Her wealth of experience and leadership in the arts and philanthropy make her an invaluable addition.”
— David Lee, Chair of Getty Trust

IN 2015, CAMPBELL was named the tenth president of Spelman. Under Campbell’s leadership, opportunities for Spelman students to pursue academic programs in art history and curatorial studies and internships and fellowships at museums has been substantially amplified. The campus museum has recently presented solo exhibitions of artists Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015), Deborah Roberts, Zanele Muholi, and Amy Sherald.

Campbell is a long-serving arts leader, art historian, and former curator. Prior to her appointment at Spelman, she was dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for two decades. Early in her career, she was director of the Studio Museum in Harlem (1977-1987). Then she served as commissioner of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch in 1991, she continued to serve in the position under Mayor David Dinkins, before joining NYU.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Campbell vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She was appointed to the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers in New York City in 2017.

Campbell earned a bachelor’s of art degree in English literature from Swarthmore College. She also received a master’s of art in art history and a doctorate in humanities from Syracuse University. Her husband, George Campbell Jr., is president emeritus of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Campbell joins the Getty as a member of several other boards, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

PHILANTHROPIST AND ART COLLECTOR Pamela J. Joyner also sits on the board of the Getty Trust. The addition of Campbell to the board follows recent staff announcements at the institution. Keishia Gu was named head of education at the Getty Museum last year. In March, GRI announced the appointment of LeRonn P. Brooks as associate curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, a new position focused on the African American Art History Initiative.

“I am thrilled to join the Getty Center Board at such a historic moment,” said Dr. Campbell in a statment. “A leading global center of the arts, the Getty is expansive and innovative in its programs. I am especially excited about the Getty Research Institute’s initiative to document the oral history of artists of the African Diaspora, making it a major resource for scholars and researchers in the field.” CT


IMAGE: Photo by Spelman College


FIND MORE about the Getty’s African American Art History Initiative in interviews with GRI’s Andrew Perchuk and board member Pamela J. Joyner, and coverage of Betye Saar’s legacy on Culture Type


Mary Schmidt Campbell authored the recent biography “An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden.” She also published “Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden 1940-1987” and “Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America.” Additional volumes from Campbell include several exhibition catalogs during her tenure at the Studio Museum in Harlem, among them “Tradition and Conflict: Images of a Turbulent Decade 1963-1973” and publications on Jack Whitten, Sam Gilliam, Al Loving, and Hale Woodruff.


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