July 02, 2018

J. Paul Getty Museum Appoints Ulrich Birkmaier as Senior Conservator of Paintings

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Amy Hood
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Getty Communications



Los Angeles – The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the appointment of Ulrich Birkmaier to the position of senior conservator of paintings. Birkmaier comes to the Getty from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was chief conservator. Birkmaier replaces Yvonne Szafran, who retired at the end of June following a 40-year career at the Museum.

Birkmaier will lead the Getty Museum’s department of paintings conservation, which is responsible for the long-term study and care of one of the finest collections of Old Master and nineteenth-century European paintings in the United States and an active program of study and treatments, including technical and materials analyses, on works within the Getty’s collection and on works from other institutions.

“Ulrich Birkmaier is an esteemed conservator who has overseen the care of many of the world’s most important works of art,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in making the announcement. “Paintings conservation at the Getty Museum is world-renowned. Not only do we care for our own extremely significant collection but we also study and conserve paintings from museum collections in Europe and across the U.S. through our conservation partnerships. It was no small feat to find someone with the skill, experience, and insight to lead our world-class team, and in Ulrich we have found someone who will invigorate and steer our conservation efforts to ensure the Getty Museum maintains its leadership position in the field.”

Birkmaier’s appointment to the Getty is a return to one of his first professional institutions. After beginning his career in Munich, Germany, where he worked at the Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the Wittelsbacher Ausgleichsfond, Birkmaier served as a graduate intern in the Getty’s paintings conservation department for a year before being appointed assistant paintings conservator at the Getty. He subsequently held positions at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and the Getty Conservation Institute (as a conservation guest scholar) before being appointed associate paintings conservator at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2000. In 2012 he was made chief conservator at the Wadsworth Atheneum and has overseen conservation and technical analysis activities and the training of incoming conservators.

Birkmaier lectures regularly in the field and has published technical findings and research on Caravaggio, Titian, Marsden Hartley, among others. He studied paintings conservation at the Doerner Institut, Munich, Germany, and the Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro in Florence. He also studied Italian at the University of Urbino in Urbino, Italy, and bookbinding and conservation at the Buchrestaurierungen Fritz Schmidt, in Munich, Germany.

"I am thrilled to return to the Getty to join this respected and talented team of museum professionals. Having spent some of my formative years there, I have long admired the breadth, scope, and excellence of the collection, programming and outreach that have established the Getty as one of the leading arts institutions in the world. Working together with a congenial group of art historians, scientists, and educators, the conservation department and its renowned conservators have over the decades been instrumental in furthering the museum’s mission, and I am honored to continue and further build on this legacy.”

He will begin at the Getty on September 10, 2018.          

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.


The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum’s mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.


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