February 04, 2021

Getty Conservation Institute Releases Free Online Publication: “The Twentieth-Century Historic Thematic Framework: A Tool for Assessing Heritage Places”

Getty Conservation Institute Releases Free Online Publication:

“The Twentieth-Century Historic Thematic Framework: A Tool for Assessing Heritage Places”


By Susan Marsden and Peter Spearritt

With contributions from Leo Schmidt, Sheridan Burke, Gail Ostergren, Jeff Cody, and Chandler McCoy

Getty Conservation Institute Publications, Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES – Getty Conservation Institute released today “The Twentieth-Century Historic Thematic Framework,” a free online tool for architecture and heritage conservation professionals around the world.

The 20th century was a time of rapid growth, technological advancement and political upheaval, resulting in a proliferation of new buildings, cities, and landscapes. However, the existence of so many potential heritage places from the 20th century can make it difficult for professionals to determine what is significant and why. This publication provides a structure to help users identify and assess 20th century heritage, which is often the first step needed to conserve and sustain these places.

The publication uses broad thinking to identify the principal social, technological, political, and economic drivers that shaped the 20th century globally, and these have been distilled into ten succinct historic themes seen in the diagram below:

Thematic frameworks are already being used to identify and assess heritage places in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, and internationally by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), and other heritage organizations.

This new publication meets a global need by creating a thematic framework for assessing 20th century heritage. Previous Getty initiatives such as the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative and Keeping It Modern have addressed these issues using international conservation management planning and grant funding, respectively.

The publication is offered for free and can be utilized and adapted by anyone involved in heritage conservation around the world.

This publication was commissioned by the Getty Conservation Institute, working in collaboration with the ICOMOS 20th Century Heritage International Scientific Committee.



Alexandria Sivak

Getty Communications

1+ 480-239-4324

Press Room:

Images available for download here



Getty is a leading global arts organization committed to the exhibition, conservation, and understanding of the world’s artistic and cultural heritage.  Working collaboratively with partners around the globe, the Getty Foundation, Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute are all dedicated to the greater understanding of the relationships between the world’s many cultures.  The Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs share art, knowledge, and resources online at and welcome the public for free at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.


The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts—broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, field projects, and the dissemination of information. In all its endeavors, the GCI creates and delivers knowledge that contributes to the conservation of the world’s cultural heritage.



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