LOS ANGELES—Harold M. Williams and Nancy Englander received the first annual J. Paul Getty Founder’s Award at a dinner last night at the Getty Center, which Williams and Englander helped envision. They were honored for their leadership in creating today’s Getty, a global leader in art history, conservation, and museum practice.
“Sixty years ago today, J. Paul Getty established a charitable trust to operate a small museum and library near Malibu. Some two decades later, Mr. Getty left the bulk of his estate to the trust with the sole requirement that it be used for ‘the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge.’ Mr. Getty’s extraordinary generosity opened up a new world of possibilities for how the Getty could best serve the visual arts, and under the leadership of Harold Williams those possibilities began to take shape as he and Nancy Englander conceived of the Getty as we know it today,” said Mark Siegel, Chair of the Getty’s Board of Trustees.
“The annual Founder’s Award will honor distinguished contributors from around the world in the areas of practice at the Getty—art, research, conservation, and philanthropy,” said James Cuno, Getty President and CEO. “It’s fitting that the first award should go to the two people who gave intellectual structure and physical form to Mr. Getty’s vision and of whom one can say, as of no one else, ‘they built the Getty and thereby changed the course of museum practice, the conservation of art, and the study of art history,’” he said.
“It’s deeply gratifying to see the Getty continue to fulfill the promise we envisioned,” said Harold. “We are honored to have helped conceive of the modern Getty, and to watch it take shape.”
Harold M. Williams, former dean of UCLA's Anderson School of Management and head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Jimmy Carter, was selected to lead the Getty in 1981, as the Board of Trustees sought to determine how best to use its considerable resources. He brought on board Nancy Englander and Leilani Lattin Duke, veterans of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Together they spent a year assessing the collective needs of the art world and defining a range of new programs for the Getty that would enable it to take on visual arts challenges that could not be adequately addressed by other institutions.
The new vision that emerged by 1982 conceived of the Getty as an interdisciplinary center for learning and a resource to the world of art and art history. The new institution would include a research center and scholarly library, a conservation institute, an art history information program, arts education, a grant program, and new publications initiatives, as well as dramatically expanded museum collections. Part of that vision included a central campus from which those various programs would work and to which scholars and visitors would come from all over the world. The iconic Getty Center, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier, opened in 1997 and welcomes nearly a million and a half visitors each year.
Over the course of its history, the Getty has worked in 200 countries and on every continent to preserve the world’s cultural heritage. Today, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Research Institute, Getty Conservation Institute and Getty Foundation work together in Los Angeles and around the world to leverage their expertise for the benefit of the field.
Nancy Englander served as the director of program planning and analysis at the J. Paul Getty Trust from 1981 to 1986, and led the conceptualization and development of the initial plans for the Getty Programs and Getty Center. Nancy’s other positions include senior vice president, Capitol International, Inc.; director of the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire; and director of museum programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She serves on the Council Steering committee of Human Rights Watch and the advisory board of the Brazil Foundation.
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