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October 27, 2014

Getty Foundation Celebrates 30 Years Of Philanthropy

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Alexandria Sivak
Getty Communications
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LOS ANGELES - Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Getty Foundation is one of the most highly respected international funders of the visual arts in the world. The Foundation has awarded 7,000 grants totaling more than $370 million, benefitting over 180 countries on all seven continents. It is the only foundation that funds projects that advance the understanding and preservation of the visual arts on a fully international basis.

“It has been a great privilege to have supported the extraordinary work undertaken by our grantees all around the world,” said Deborah Marrow, Director of the Getty Foundation. “The last thirty years have given us an incredible overview of the needs in the fields we serve, allowing us to identify areas where grants make a difference."

The Foundation’s signature grant programs have made art history more interdisciplinary and international; created models for the practice of conservation emphasizing the importance of research and training; increased access to museum and archival collections, most recently in digital form; and nurtured a generation of new leaders in the visual arts. In the process, these programs have created broad networks of grantees around the world; deepened the Getty’s connection to its home city of Los Angeles through special programs such as Pacific Standard Time and the Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program; and established a model for collaborative philanthropy by bringing together grantees to tackle shared challenges, as in the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), which recently passed a milestone with all of the grantees’ catalogues freely available to all online.

“Philanthropy is a key ingredient in carrying out the Getty’s mission. I commend the Foundation for its three decades of strategic philanthropy that have had a powerful impact on the fields of art history, conservation and museum practice,” said James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “Years before I came to the Getty Trust, I served on the Foundation’s Publication Grant committee, and I witnessed firsthand the care and intelligence with which the Foundation considered the grants it gave.”

When selecting grants, the Foundation engages in extensive consultation with colleagues at the Getty and elsewhere in order to find areas where grants can make a difference. Over the years, the Foundation has used thousands of peer reviewers and distinguished advisory committee members in a trusted process that gives other funders confidence that they can follow the Getty. The Foundation has always defined art broadly and considered projects from all places, periods, and media.

“The Getty Foundation has played a central role in making art history a more global discipline,” said Natalia Majluf, Director, Museo de Arte de Lima. “From a Latin American perspective, the Foundation has helped art historians and conservators bridge distances through networks of exchange, which have generated a richer dialogue within the region and beyond. The Getty has without a doubt been a central part of the progress of the discipline over the past three decades.”

Over the past 30 years the Getty Foundation, which began as the Getty Grant Program, has continued to shape its grantmaking to respond to the evolving needs of the field. Since 2009 the Foundation has awarded grants primarily through strategic initiatives. Highlights of grants from all 30 years are listed on the following pages in chronological order, and additional information can be found on the Foundation’s website Grant highlights are also featured on the Foundation’s anniversary map, which underscores the geographic range of projects.

The Getty Foundation Highlights from 30 Years of Philanthropy

Postdoctoral Fellowships and Publication Grants (1984-2009)


A selection of publications resulting from Getty grants.

The Foundation’s very first grants were for hundreds of postdoctoral fellowships and publications. Postdoctoral fellowships supported emerging leaders in the field of art history and connected art history to other humanistic disciplines. Publication grants covered such a wide range of topics that they helped broaden the definition of art at a time when that term was much discussed.

Museums in Africa (1986-2011)

Abdillahi Said Kaleheza of the Malindi Museum cleaning a winnowing tray as part of a Getty-supported training workshop. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum

For over 25 years the Foundation has provided grants to train museum professionals in sub-Saharan Africa, in the process transforming the care of museum collections on the continent. Early grants focused on preventative conservation techniques, and programs such as Prevention for Museums in Africa (PREMA) led to the training of hundreds of museum professionals from more than 40 African countries and ultimately to the creation of the first permanent African conservation organizations in Benin and Kenya. Together with subsequent programs in both West and East Africa, including a recent partnership with the British Museum, grant projects build professional capacity on the continent, strengthen key heritage organizations, and coordinate region-wide training.

Central and Eastern European Initiative (1991-1997)

Research library of the Collegium Budapest, Hungary

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Foundation developed an initiative to strengthen art historical scholarship in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Fellowships enabled more than 120 scholars from the region to conduct research outside their home countries, most for the first time. At the same time as the fellowships, the Foundation provided grants to key art historical libraries in the region to enhance their collections. We coordinated with the GRI which gave many of its duplicate books to the same libraries. These grants proved critical in breaking down decades of intellectual isolation for a generation of colleagues, a beacon of light in a dark time.

Nagaur-Ahhichatragarh Fort (1992-2007)

Nagaur Fort, Interior Courtyard. Photography by Neil Greentree
Located in northwest India, the Nagaur Fort in Rajasthan is one of the best examples of Rajput-Mughal architecture. This fortified complex of palaces, elaborate gardens, and temples had fallen into ruin. With the help of a series of Getty architectural conservation grants, the Mehrangarh Museum Trust undertook the conservation of the fort, using both traditional building methods and modern scientific techniques. Getty funds also enabled students and faculty from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London to participate in the conservation of the wall paintings at the fort. The project also benefited local conservators, who worked alongside the Courtauld students on the treatment of painted and mirrored surfaces of the Sheesh Mahal, or Hall of Mirrors. The project received a UNESCO Award for Excellence in Cultural Heritage.

Multicultural Undergraduate Internships (1993-Present)

Getty intern Fabian Alberto at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Photo © J. Paul Getty Trust

Following the civil disturbances in LA of 1992, the Foundation created the Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program to encourage greater staff diversity in the professions related to museums and the visual arts. The program introduces college undergraduates from diverse cultural backgrounds to careers in the arts. Since the first interns arrived in 1993, more than 150 local arts organizations including the Getty have hosted nearly 3,000 interns. A number of the early interns are already assuming leadership positions in their organizations.

Years of the Cupola (2000) 

View of Brunelleschi’s dome, the Florence Cathedral. Photo: Frank K, CC By-SA 3.0

The Foundation has a long history of supporting access to important archives. A grant supported the creation of a database of documentary sources on the administration of Florence Cathedral in the 15th century during the construction of Brunelleschi’s dome. It is an amazing repository of material about Florentine art, architecture, society, and material culture during the Renaissance. Scholars have been dreaming about gaining access to this material for over one hundred years, now only possible thanks to computer technology.

Pacific Standard Time (2002-Present)

Pacific Standard Time publications. Photo © J. Paul Getty Trust

The Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 was fueled by a series of Foundation grants for archives, research, exhibitions, programs, and publications over a ten-year period. Pacific Standard Time rescued an endangered history and shared it with the public. The initiative leaves a strong legacy of more than 40 books, accessible archives, and a lasting collaborative spirit among cultural organizations in the region. Next comes Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (opening in fall 2017), the new initiative about Latino and Latin American art for which the Foundation announced more than 40 grants in May.

Panel Paintings Initiative (2008-Present)

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (The Ghent Altarpiece), Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Image courtesy Cathedral of Saint Bavo © Lukas - Art in Flanders

Paintings created on wood backing—known as panel paintings—are among the most significant works of art in American and European museum collections. The Panel Paintings Initiative was designed to address the urgent need to train the next generation of experts before the current generation retires. Grants provide training opportunities for conservators, while at the same time conserving some of the world’s most cherished works of art like the Ghent Altarpiece or the Rubens Triumph of the Eucharist paintings in the Prado now on view at the Getty Museum.

OSCI (2009-Present)

The Art Institute of Chicago’s OSCI publication. Image © J. Paul Getty Trust

The Foundation and Museum launched the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) to help museums make the transition from print to digital collection catalogues. Digital publishing presents exciting opportunities as well as complex challenges, best addressed collaboratively. OSCI recently passed a milestone: all eight partners supported by Getty grants have released collection catalogues now freely available to all online. The model projects, tools, and lessons that result from the OSCI collaboration are openly shared with the entire museum community.

Connecting Art Histories (2009-Present)

Members of the Connecting Art Histories research project based at the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo © J. Paul Getty Trust

For decades, the Getty Foundation has supported art history through grants that facilitate new research, especially those projects that offer innovative models for collaboration. The Connecting Art Histories initiative carries this legacy forward by concentrating on scholarly exchange among individuals in regions whose economic or political realities have limited their participation in an international dialogue. Through visiting professorships and intensive seminars in the field, Connecting Art Histories projects are bringing together scholars who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn from one another.

Keeping it Modern (2014 ongoing)

Sydney Opera House exterior. Photo: Jack Atley, courtesy of Sydney Opera House Trust

The newest grant initiative continues our tradition of support for architectural conservation. Keeping It Modern addresses the considerable challenges involved with the conservation of 20th century architectural heritage through support for key model projects around the world. Keeping It Modern supports projects that investigate and produce knowledge about the innovative materials that architects and engineers used in modern buildings, and that promises to advance conservation practice. The Foundation created the initiative to complement the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, and two of the first ten projects funded (Salk Institute and Eames House) are related to GCI projects.

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 Malibu.

The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, the Foundation strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections, and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts. It carries out its work in collaboration with the other Getty Programs to ensure that they individually and collectively achieve maximum effect.

Additional information is available at
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