The Getty

Head of Design

Posted Date
10 months ago(9/18/2019 9:15 AM)
Requisition Number
Regular Full-Time
Position Status
Getty Center
Museum - 0333-Design
Commensurate with experience and internal equity

Job Summary

The J. Paul Getty Museum invites applications to the position of Head of Design. The ideal candidate will be an expert creative and strategic thinker with demonstrative skills in leading a large team of talented, multidisciplinary designers. Reporting to the Associate Director of Exhibitions, the ideal candidate will be responsible for design strategies and solutions that synthesize the needs of the visitor, internal clients, and project stakeholders through multiple outputs, including major exhibitions and permanent-collection galleries. Working across departments, he/she will collaborate to assess needs and conceptualize environmental and visual solutions that showcase the Museum’s collections, build the Getty brand, and champion the Getty’s international reputation. The ideal candidate will practice sophisticated design methodologies and demonstrate excellence and creativity in the areas of architecture, interior design, exhibition scenography, narrative and promotional graphics, wayfinding, and the use of commercial and digital products.

The J. Paul Getty Museum is one of four programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Museum operates two facilities, the Getty Villa in Mailbu, which exhibits its collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, and the Getty Center in Brentwood, which displays its collections of European art: Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, drawings to 1900, and photography to the present day (including non-European works). The Museum mounts approximately 20 temporary exhibitions a year across its two sites; maintains an annual permanent gallery improvement program, and offers wide-ranging and ambitious programming for its visitors.


The Design Department supports the Getty’s mission to “inspire curiosity about, and enjoyment and understanding of, the visual arts” by creating meaningful experiences for diverse audiences. Through a collaborative process, its multidisciplinary team develops engaging and accessible design solutions, achieving international recognition in the museum field.

Major Job Responsibilities

  • Provide leadership in design strategies and concepts for major projects - including those for the physical site master plan, permanent gallery refurbishments, and temporary and touring exhibitions - bringing coherence to the plan and a sophisticated approach to design and visual communication.
  • Ensure the successful integration of design in the planning and execution of all projects, working closely with staff from curatorial, conservation, interpretative content, exhibitions coordination, registration, preparations, communications, and public affairs, so that outputs are delivered on brief, to time and budget, and to agreed quality standards.
  • Manage the Museum’s team of multidisciplinary designers (9 FTEs), applying new ways of working where appropriate.
  • Ensure processes are in place to maximize the effectiveness of design resources. Includes overseeing the preparation of design-related schedules, resource planning, and financial estimates and reports.
  • Advise on design solutions to wayfinding, signage, and marketing through a range of media, including print and digital, to build the Getty brand, working with the Campus Architect, Trust Communications and Museum Public Affairs.
  • Commission external designers, as necessary, and manage them throughout delivery, ensuring appropriate matches to project scale, outcomes, and audience.
  • Study trends in museum design, including technical advances, new methodologies, and products, and advise peers and senior management of their suitability.
  • Represent the Museum externally on design related matters.
  • Other duties, as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree

  • 5 to 7 years of supervisory and/or project/process management experience

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

The ideal candidate will be a leader in the field of design, highly creative, with a proven track record of developing design briefs and strategies that successfully deliver to agreed objectives. He/She will have significant experience working with Museum collections and content. As a skilled presenter and influencer, the candidate will demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with both non specialists and specialists in design, working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders from different teams. He/She will demonstrate sound judgment, a strong sense of integrity and personal responsibility and an ability to address complex issues, resolve conflict, and remain calm under pressure. He/She will have excellent organizational skills and the proven ability to manage multiple projects of different scales simultaneously, plan resources accordingly, cost projects effectively and appropriately, and deliver within procurement guidelines. Finally, the ideal candidate will have the skills to recruit, manage and develop staff, and demonstrate a strong commitment to quality and excellence.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • bachelor of arts degree in a design discipline, preferred;
  • minimum of 7 - 10 years of experience related directly to the duties and responsibilities of this position, preferred;
  • high degree of creativity;
  • deep knowledge of design processes and practices, policies, and procedures in a museum or art gallery environment;
  • knowledge of current and emerging trends in the design profession, preferably within the arts and heritage sector;
  • proven track record as an experienced and effective team leader: authoritative and decisive while also displaying key collaborative skills, and an accomplished negotiator, diplomat;
  • superior communication skills and the ability to effectively convey ideas and persuade outcomes through formal presentation;
  • knowledge of museum conservation needs and practices;
  • knowledge of industrial design and architectural practices, including life/safety and ADA requirements;
  • knowledge of museum conservation lighting;
  • technical acumen: working knowledge of design software tools such as Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator), Vectorworks and/or SketchUp. Prototyping skills using tools such as HTML5, Flash, Java, Flex, Dreamweaver and/or knowledge of imaging/video domain applications is desirable. Advanced skills in business software including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint;
  • ability to travel as the demands of the position require.