Getty Conservation Institute


The work of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) is carried out through a series of initiatives designed to address significant needs in the conservation field. These initiatives research and study critical issues in the field, and develop methods and approaches that can advance the practice of conservation. During FY16, the GCI’s wide range of work was carried out through its Collections, Building and Sites, and Science departments, as well as through its Research Resources and Dissemination group. Many of these initiatives entail interdepartmental collaboration, and most involve close collaboration with a variety of local, national, and international partners. 

During this fiscal year, there were a number of highlights in the Conservation Institute’s work. As part of its Earthen Architecture Initiative, GCI staff completed and presented a conservation and rehabilitation plan for one of southern Morocco’s most significant earthen sites, Kasbah Taourirt. Arches—the inventory and heritage management system developed by the GCI in collaboration with World Monuments Fund—continued to be adopted by organizations around the world, including the American Schools of Oriental Research, which will be employing it with respect to heritage sites in Syria. There was further progress with the GCI’s Museum Collection Environments initiative, including the presentation of a master class on developments in museum and gallery lighting, a collaborative effort with the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. As part of the MOSAIKON initiative, the GCI presented its second regional course on the conservation and management of archaeological sites with mosaics, held at Herculaneum in Italy. In conjunction with the GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, staff completed its report and recommendations on the conservation of the teak window wall assemblies at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, an iconic work of modern architecture with international significance. In fall 2015, the Institute’s Modern and Contemporary Art Research initiative helped organize several conferences and a symposium: (1) “FAR-SITED: Creating and Conserving Art in Public Places,” a three-day conference examining the creation and conservation of public art, co-organized with the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach, and the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach; (2) “Abstract Expressionism: Time, Intention, Conservation, and Meaning” at the Getty Center, in collaboration with the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver; and, (3) “Media in Transition” at Tate Modern, which explored the conservation implications for collecting and conserving time-based media art, co-organized with Tate in London and the Getty Research Institute. And the GCI’s multi-decade work at the Mogao Grottoes in China led to the organizing with the Getty Research Institute and the Dunhuang Academy of the exhibition Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, which opened at the Getty Center in May 2016.

All GCI projects are summarized below under the departmental area leading the initiative.

Projects between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016

Buildings and Sites

  • Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road
    In connection with the China Principles and Wall Paintings at the Mogao Grottoes projects and in collaboration with the GCI’s longtime partner, the Dunhuang Academy (DA), and the Getty Research Institute (GRI), this exhibition opened at the Getty Center in May 2016. Planning, curating, and organizing tours of the exhibition were undertaken during the reporting period. The exhibition included three full-size replica caves, two which were constructed by the DA specifically for the exhibition and installed on the Arrival Plaza by DA artisans in March; a digital immersive experience of a Tang dynasty cave; and over forty objects, originally from the Library Cave at Mogao, on loan from European institutions and displayed in the GRI galleries. Celebrating over twenty-five years of collaboration between the GCI and DA, conservation of the site and its art was an important theme of the exhibition.
    Partners: Getty Research Institute; The Dunhuang Academy
  • Conservation and Management of the Tomb of Tutankhamen
    This project is focused on the conservation, presentation, interpretation, and long-term management of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. The collaborative undertaking involves detailed scientific analysis and investigation of the technology and condition of the 3,300-year-old wall paintings, including study of the environment and assessment of the impact of visitors on the tomb. Appropriate conservation measures to stabilize the wall paintings have been implemented. In FY16, construction of the interior infrastructure was completed including new walkways, a viewing platform, environmental systems, lighting and interpretation.
    Partner: Ministry of State for Antiquities, Egypt
  • Conservation of América Tropical
    The project for the conservation of the mural América Tropical (1932) by David Alfaro Siqueiros at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in downtown Los Angeles was completed and the site reopened to the public in October 2012. The project included conservation treatment, design, and installation of a protective shelter, interpretation, and public access to the mural. The GCI is currently carrying out post-intervention monitoring of the mural through 2022. In FY16, the project bibliography was updated and annual monitoring of the mural was undertaken.
    Partner: City of Los Angeles
  • Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative
    The Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI) is intended to advance the practice of conserving twentieth-century heritage through research and investigation, development of practical conservation solutions, and creation and distribution of information In FY16, CMAI hosted a series of public lectures and published a bibliography on concrete conservation, and co-hosted the 2016 Iconic Houses Network Conference. Work began on the Twentieth Century Thematic Historic Framework. A one-day workshop for architects on the subject of conserving modern architecture was held at the annual American Institute of Architects convention in May. In addition, work commenced on the second volume in the Case Studies from the Field publication series on the topic of Energy and Climate Management in Modern Buildings.
    • Eames House Conservation Project
      The first field project of CMAI aims to understand and assess the current condition of the 1949 Charles and Ray Eames House and its contents and setting, and to assist in the development of conservation management (CMP) and maintenance plans, which will provide a model for conservation of similar buildings from this era. In FY16, the results of ongoing environmental monitoring for the Eames House were synthesized in an Environmental Report, which included recommendations for enhancing environmental conditions. Aided by consultants, GML Heritage, the conservation management plan was further developed as part of a long-term strategy for the care and conservation of the house.
      Partner: Eames Foundation
    • Salk Institute Conservation Project
      In 2013, the GCI began work on a second CMAI field project at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, designed by Louis I. Kahn (1965). This project aims to develop long-term conservation strategies for the site’s teak window wall assemblies, which are weathered and deteriorated after nearly fifty years in an exposed marine environment. The project will also establish a methodology that the Salk Institute will be able to utilize when planning for the care and maintenance of other significant historic elements in the future. Historic research, on-site condition surveys, and scientific diagnosis have been undertaken to guide the development of treatment recommendations for cleaning and repair of the teak window wall assemblies. In FY16, on-site trials and mock-ups were monitored and evaluated and, based upon the results of this work to date, the GCI provided recommendations for treatment, which are now being implemented under the Salk’s window repair construction project.
      Partner: Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Earthen Architecture Initiative
    This initiative seeks to advance earthen architecture through model projects that improve the ways conservation interventions are carried out, research that addresses unanswered questions in earthen conservation, capacity building, a dissemination of information for appropriate conservation interventions on historic buildings, settlements, and archaeological sites composed of earthen materials.
    • Conservation and Rehabilitation Plan for the Kasbah of Taourirt, Morocco
      The project focuses on the development of a methodology for the integrated conservation of the Kasbah Taourirt to be used as a model for conservation and rehabilitation of traditional earthen architecture in Morocco. In FY16, the third and final phase of work was carried out including completing the documentation of the site, finalizing conservation works in the Stara area, and carrying out priority structural and roofing repairs in the Caid Residence. Conservation of decorated surfaces in the Caid Residence was also undertaken including stabilization and cleaning of wall paintings. This final phase of work included training personnel from the Centre de Conservation et de Réhabilitation du Patrimoine Architectural des Zones Atlasiques et Subatiasiques (CERKAS) in laboratory analysis of earthen materials and in the
      conservation of wall paintings. The project has been disseminated through the development of a website for CERKAS, presentations to various stakeholders in Morocco and the publication of a final report.
      Partner: Centre de Conservation et de Réhabilitation du Patrimoine Architectural des Zones Atlasiques et Subatlasiques (CERKAS), Morocco
    • Seismic Retrofitting Project
      The project combines traditional construction techniques and materials with high-tech methodologies to design and test easy-to-implement seismic retrofitting techniques and maintenance programs to improve the structural performance of earthen historic buildings in Peru and other countries in Latin America. In FY16, work on the numerical modeling analysis and static and dynamic testing for all prototype buildings continued. The project also began production of construction drawings for the seismic retrofitting of two of the prototype buildings: Ica Cathedral and Kuño Tambo Church. In the latter, preliminary conservation of the paintings was undertaken prior to seismic retrofitting of the site.
      Partners: University of Minho, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú; Ministerio de Cultura del Perú
  • Heritage Inventory and Management Systems
    The following projects work to develop model approaches and systems to inventory and manage heritage buildings, urban areas, landscapes, and archaeological sites:
    • Arches: Heritage Inventory and Management System
      Arches was initiated in partnership with World Monuments Fund to provide the cultural heritage field with modern, open source software that is specifically designed to help inventory, manage, and aid in the protection of all types of heritage places.
      The Arches software code is currently downloaded over 1,500 times monthly, and there are more than twenty-five implementations (either full or partial) with another twenty evaluations of the platform in progress. During the reporting period, the GCI signed an agreement with the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) to support its deployment of Arches through its project with the US State Department to prepare for post-war responses to war-torn cultural heritage of Syria and northern Iraq, and with Hong Kong University to promote Arches implementations in Asia. Development of version 4 is approximately 50 percent complete and on schedule to launch by the end of 2016.
      Partner: World Monuments Fund
    • Los Angeles Historic Resource Survey
      The project aims to develop and support a comprehensive historic resources survey for the City of Los Angeles as a best practice model for the identification and survey of historic resources for use by government/city authorities. In FY16, the City of Los Angeles completed field surveys of Downtown Los Angeles, which includes the Central City area and Chinatown and adjacent industrial areas to the east. In addition, field work began on Northeast Los Angeles, which will then conclude SurveyLA field surveys. Survey reports for all completed survey areas continue to be posted on the SurveyLA website ( The GCI and City of Los Angeles also prepared to import additional survey data into the customized version of the Arches software platform being used by the city to manage and publish online historic resource data, known as HistoricPlacesLA (
      Partners: Office of Historic Resources, City of Los Angeles; Los Angeles City Council; Getty Foundation
    • Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA)–Jordan
      A precursor to Arches, this project aims to develop and implement a national, web-based, English-Arabic geographic information system (GIS) for Jordan to be used as a tool to inventory and manage the nation’s archeological sites, as well as to provide information on Jordan’s archaeological sites to researchers. In FY16, the Jordanian Department of Antiquities continued to make regular use of the MEGA-Jordan system (
      Partners: World Monuments Fund; Jordan Department of Antiquities
  • Herculaneum
    The Herculaneum project is focused on the study and conservation of the architectural surfaces of the Tablinum in the Casa del Bicentenario, which houses some of the most prized wall paintings at this archaeological site. The conservation methodology being developed will be applicable to architectural surfaces at this and other sites in the Vesuvian region. In FY16, evaluation of the stabilization of the wall paintings was carried out. Focused studies on the alteration of yellow to red pigments, characterization of original and restoration tuff, and collaborative studies with the National Center for Research in Naples were carried out. Protections for the wall paintings and mosaic pavement were installed in preparation for structural stabilization of the Casa del Bicentenario.
    Partners: Herculaneum Conservation Project; Soprintendenza Pompei
  • Heritage Values, Stakeholders, and Consensus Building
    This project aims to advance the ability of heritage professionals to constructively engage with stakeholders by bridging conservation and public dispute resolution practices through a program of research, application, and dissemination. In FY16, proceedings from a workshop on promoting the application of consensus building and dispute resolution methods to the practice of heritage site conservation and management were published.
  • Historic Cities and Urban Settlements Initiative
    This work aims to contribute to the enhancement of practice in the field of conservation and management of historic cities and urban settlements by addressing critical needs and issues through the implementation of targeted projects ranging from research and education to field work.
    • Contemporary Architecture in the Historic Environment
      This project of both the Historic Cities and Conserving Modern Architecture Initiatives seeks to provide guidance to the conservation, planning, architectural, and development communities for designing and assessing the impact of new buildings in the historic environment. In FY16, an annotated bibliography with key doctrinal, philosophical, and critical texts and case studies on contemporary architecture in historic environments was published.
    • Urban Conservation Planning in Malaysia
      This project seeks to improve urban conservation practice in Southeast Asia by creating education and training activities for urban planners and architects, through a two-week intensive course in Malaysia. In FY16, participants from all three versions of the course were invited to meet in Kuala Lumpur, where a two-day workshop was delivered, related to the course’s main themes. Also in FY16, the GCI commissioned an independent evaluation team from Yogyakarta, Indonesia to assess the impact and effectiveness of the courses in Malaysia.
      Partners: Badan Warisan Malaysia; ThinkCity
  • Injection Grouts for the Conservation of Architectural Surfaces: Research and Evaluation
    The recent focus of this research project has been dissemination of testing and evaluation methods of injection grouts for the conservation of architectural surfaces, including plasters, wall paintings, and mosaics following the publication and distribution of the manual, Evaluation of Lime-Based Hydraulic Injection Grouts for the Conservation of Architectural Surfaces, in fall 2013. Dissemination has included participation in technical working groups of international organizations, publications, workshops, and presentations at professional conferences. In FY16, experimental results of testing were synthesized, and a final project report was drafted.
    The primary goal of the MOSAIKON initiative is the enhancement of professional capacity in the conservation and management of archaeological mosaics in the Mediterranean region.
    Partners: Getty Foundation; ICCROM; International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics. Buildings and Sites
    • Bulla Regia Model Conservation Project
      This model field project aims to conserve and present to the public one or more ancient houses and their mosaic floor decoration at this large and complex archaeological site in Tunisia. GCI-trained technicians are carrying out the bulk of the conservation interventions on mosaics and wall plasters under GCI team supervision at the Maison de la Chasse. The second component of the project is the development of a conservation treatment and management plan for the almost four hundred excavated mosaics throughout the site. In FY16, field campaigns were suspended for security reasons, however, work on site was carried out by technicians, and conservation planning by the project team continued. A meeting with the Institut National du Patrimoine was held in May 2016 to review site work progress and to discuss the conservation planning proposals, including visitation plans of selected excavated buildings, developed during the past year.
      Partners: World Monuments Fund and Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisia
    • Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites with Mosaics: Training for Site Managers
      The second regional training course on the Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites with Mosaics concluded with a follow-up workshop held at the site of Herculaneum, Italy, in September 2015. This workshop brought all twenty course participants together to present the training projects on which they had been working during the past year, adapting and applying the knowledge learned during the course to real-world scenarios at their own sites. Site exercises and visits to other sites around the region reinforced key concepts and provided the participants with the opportunity to compare and contrast different site management approaches. Also in FY16, planning began for the third course in the series, which will begin in May 2017 at the World Heritage site of Volubilis, Morocco.
      Partners: The Direction du Patrimoine Culturel of Morocco
    • Mosaic Conservation Technician Training
      Building on ten years of training technicians for in situ mosaic maintenance at multiple Tunisian sites, this training project aims to produce teams of mosaic technicians based at major sites in North Africa. In FY16, three of six new technicians were hired by the Direction du Patrimoine Culturel of Morocco. The start of the FY16 course in Morocco was postponed until spring 2017 to allow time for the remaining three technicians to assume their positions.
      Partners: Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisia, Direction du Patrimoine Culturel, Morocco; the Department of Antiquities of Algeria and Libya
    • Protective Shelters for Archaeological Sites with Mosaics
      Guidelines are being developed for the design, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of shelters for archaeological sites, particularly sites with mosaics. These practical guidelines and illustrative case studies are intended for archaeologists, architects, conservators, and others involved in the process of constructing and managing archaeological shelters. A second working meeting of the guideline authors was held in early FY16, and work progressed on developing the guideline content throughout the year.
      Partners: Israeli Antiquities Authority; Historic England
    • Southern African Rock Art Project
      This project aims to enhance the conservation, management, awareness, and use of rock art sites in the southern African subcontinent through workshops, training, and collaborations. In FY16, planning began for a colloquium that will take place in 2017 to include invited professionals, representatives of indigenous communities, and decision makers.
      Partners: Griffith University; Kakadu National Park; Stepwise Heritage and Tourism


  • Managing Collection Environments
    A collaboration of the Collections and Science departments, the Managing Collection Environments initiative addresses a number of compelling research questions and practical issues pertaining to the control and management of collection environments in museums. In FY16, a project specialist was hired to develop the initiative’s education component and a graduate intern joined the research team investigating the effects of aging on the mechanical properties of paints. In February, two workshops on museum lighting, “Master Class on Museum Lighting: Options Beyond White LED,” were presented in partnership with the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The workshops were attended by an international group of conservators, scientists, and exhibition and lighting designers. In March, an instructors’ meeting, hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was held to launch plans for the FY17 course in early 2017.
  • Preservation of Photographs and Photograph Collections
    The goal of this project is to advance the field of photograph conservation by building the capacity of professionals who care for and manage collections. It includes the following regional components:
    • Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI)
      MEPPI focuses on the development of photograph preservation knowledge and skills for collection caretakers in the Middle East and North Africa. MEPPI offered a two-week workshop, “The Environment and Exhibition of Photographs,” in November 2015 at the American University of Beirut.
      Partners: Arab Image Foundation; Art Conservation Department of the University of Delaware; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Additional regional partners: American University of Beirut.
    • Current Issues in Photograph Conservation
      In FY16, the GCI launched this series of annual workshops at the Getty Villa focusing on different conservation challenges associated with innovations in photography. In FY16, planning was undertaken for the July 2016 workshop on the identification and preservation of digital prints.
  • Research Into Practice Workshop Series
    The purpose of this training series is to improve conservation practice by disseminating the results of current GCI scientific research to conservation professionals through a series of intensive training workshops. In FY16, a project specialist was hired to expand the range of workshops in this series.
  • Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces (CAPS)
    This ongoing series of workshops are designed to engage conservators with the newest research for identifying a broader range of cleaning systems and methodologies for acrylic painted surfaces. The CAPS workshops have reached over one hundred conservators who work with modern and contemporary art. In FY16, planning took place for the July 2016 workshop to take place at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.
    Partner: The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art
  • XRF Bootcamp for Conservators
    The XRF Bootcamp, presented in partnership with Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University, focuses on qualitative analysis and use of handheld X-ray fluorescence instrumentation and provides in-depth training through interactive lectures paired with hands-on laboratory activities. In FY16, planning commenced for the November 2016 bootcamp to be held in Maastrict, The Netherlands.
    Partners: Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University; the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL); Bonnefantenmuseum


  • Materials Characterization
    This research area involves in-depth studies on broad classes of material used in art and heritage. Such studies are essential to the field, often requiring the development or refinement of existing analytical protocols for proper identification and investigations into their physical properties.
    • Animation Cels Research
      This project, made possible by a generous contribution from The Walt Disney Company, is focused on developing conservation methods for re-attaching flaking and delaminating paints from animation cels, and examining the effects of storage conditions on the mechanical and chemical stabilities of the painted cels. Highlights from FY16 include a condition survey that revealed information about the onset and range of deterioration phenomena, studies of paint binding media and additives, and investigations of the mechanical behavior of cel paints.
      Partners: Disney Animation Research Library; UCLA; Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
    • Characterization of Asian and European Lacquers
      This project seeks to improve understanding of Asian lacquer formulations and their conservation. Highlights from FY16 include preparations for the FY17 Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquer workshop and expanding the lacquer database.
      Partners: Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency; Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France
    • Photographic Processes
      The project focuses on the development, testing, and implementation of modern scientific analysis for the identification of more than 150 photographic processes from the chemical photography era. In FY16, work centered on the characterization and identification of coatings on early paper negatives. In addition, the project continued work on the physical and chemical characterization of twentieth-century black-and-white photographic papers working with “key set” samples from the collection of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) at Yale University. Additional work was carried out on the online resource, The Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic Processes, with updates made to the platinum print chapter, and information compiled on cased images—heliographs, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes.
      Partners: National Media Museum, Bradford, UK; Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University; Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections, Paris, France; J Paul Getty Museum
  • Modern and Contemporary Art Research (ModCon) Initiative
    The ModCon Initiative is a multifaceted, long-term venture focused on the many and varied conservation needs of modern and contemporary art. With the myriad of new materials and technologies being utilized by artists, the lack of established conservation treatments, and complex potential conflicts between an artist’s concept and the physical aging of works of art, conserving modern and contemporary art is widely recognized as presenting some of the most difficult and pressing challenges in the field.
    • Art in L.A.
      Art in L.A. aims to address the conservation issues of works of art created by artists working in Southern California since 1945 and to use case studies to explore some of the broader issues of conserving contemporary art. In FY16, Made in Los Angeles: Materials, Processes, and the Birth of West Coast Minimalism was published, outlining the materials and working processes of Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Craig Kaufman, and John McCracken. Additional videos in the Artists’ Dialogues series were begun, including ones on John Baldessari and Laura Owens. Three documentaries were also initiated on L.A.–based artists of Latin American origin, in conjunction with the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative: Gabriel Kuri, Analia Saban, and David Lamelas. These videos explore artist’s materials, processes, and thoughts on conserving their work.
    • Modern Paints
      Modern Paints seeks to improve understanding of and conservation methodologies for works of art created in modern paint media. In FY16, research on the development of new cleaning approaches for acrylic and modern oil paintings continued, with a paper on mineral spirits–based microemulsions, a new class of cleaning materials, to be published in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. A one-day symposium, “Abstract Expressionism: Intention, Time, Conservation, and Meaning,” was held at the Getty Center in collaboration with the Clyfford Still Museum. Technical studies were carried out on a range of Sam Francis and Clyfford Still paintings, in preparation for forthcoming books in the Artists’ Materials series.
      Partners: Tate, London; Dow Chemical Company; RCE Amsterdam
    • Outdoor Sculpture
      The aim of this project is to explore broadly issues associated with conserving twentieth- and twenty-first-century outdoor sculpture, with the first phase of the project focused primarily on painted outdoor works. In FY16, collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory continued, and a newly developed paint binder is being formulated to match the specifications of works by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and Tony Smith. The GCI has also worked with the Nevelson Foundation to define the aesthetic specifications for Nevelson’s outdoor coatings. A repository of paint coupons approved by artists’ studios, estates, and foundations was initiated and continues to expand; storage and a database for the coupons are being designed. Studies exploring solutions for local retouching are being carried out in collaboration with Dow Chemical Company and Golden Artists Colors. Work has continued on conservation of the sculpture collection of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the collaboration is currently wrapping up. The symposium “FAR-SITED: Creating and Conserving Art in Public Places,” was held at CSULB in October 2015, which celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the CSULB collection, and examined new trends in public art, the use of new materials and technology, and the role of conservation for art in the public realm.
      Partners: California State University, Long Beach; Army Research Laboratory; Nevelson Foundation; Tony Smith Estate; Dow Chemical Company; Golden Artists Color; J. Paul Getty Museum
    • Modern Abstract Art in Latin America
      Combining art historical and scientific analysis of selected works from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, this three-year project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the formal strategies and material decisions made by artists experimenting with geometric abstraction in Argentina and Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s. The first phase of the project, dedicated to the detailed study and documentation of the materials and techniques of the works, was completed. Artworks and findings from the technical study will be brought together in the exhibition, Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, to open at the Getty Center in August 2017 as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Results from the technical examination were placed in their larger historical context and discussed in an essay for the exhibition catalogue.
      Partners: Getty Research Institute; Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York; Universidad Nacional de San Martin, Buenos Aires; Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; Universidade Federal de Mins Gerias; Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro
  • MOSAIKON: Alternate Backing Methods for Lifted Mosaics
    The backing or rebacking of the thousands of lifted mosaics is a major conservation challenge in the Mediterranean region, where financial resources are limited. The focus of this component of the MOSAIKON initiative is to address the urgent need for developing sustainable and cost-effective backing methods for the lifted mosaics. In FY16, analysis of a series of experimental mockups identified a number of mortars and reinforcement combinations that can produce structurally acceptable backings for lifted mosaics. A report was prepared that outlines all these results, including the experimental set-up and progress in computer modeling as a tool for predicting behavior. The report is currently undergoing an internal peer review prior to its publication. A peer-reviewed conference paper was published in the proceedings of the 12th Conference of the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics.
    Partners: Getty Foundation; ICCROM; International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics
  • Preventive Conservation
    The physical condition of cultural heritage is best protected with carefully controlled environments during display and storage of works of art. The GCI has conducted numerous research activities designed to promote preventive conservation of museum collections in the domains of air pollution, temperature and relative humidity control, and lighting.
    • Managing Collection Environments
      Managing Collection Environments, a collaboration of the Collections and Science departments, is a five-year initiative that addresses a number of compelling research questions and practical issues pertaining to the control and management of collection environments in museums, libraries, archives, and other repositories. Much of the scientific work focuses on elucidating damage mechanisms and determining environmental conditions that cause damage—both of which are essential for defining long-term strategies for the preservation of art objects. In FY16, the study of macro- and micro-mechanical properties of artistic materials was started. In parallel, a pilot study to monitor the condition of selected wooden objects in controlled environmental conditions was initiated, using several techniques for quantifying damage.
      Partners: Canadian Conservation Institute; English Heritage; Jerzy Haber Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences; Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University; National Trust (UK); Rijksmuseum Amsterdam; Technical University Eindhoven; J. Paul Getty Museum
    • Microfading Research
      The goal of this project is to examine ways accelerated aging can advance and document preventive conservation display practices for the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute. Microfading is used to detect highly light-sensitive artworks—a condition largely unknown for twentieth-century artifacts—before they are damaged from exposure and to set display policies for these works and other collections. In FY16, a microfading monitoring program, initially focusing on the color stability of large tapestries measured while in storage, is advancing. The program has expanded to also include a focused examination of color changes in the illuminated manuscript collection of the Getty Museum. Both of these studies additionally are examining the potential of fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) in combination with microfading for ongoing monitoring.
    • Museum Lighting Research
      The long-term goal of this project is to provide advanced guidance in support of conservation and curatorial values in exhibition lighting. In FY16, the GCI, along with the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, organized a two-day class on recent developments in museum and gallery lighting, “Master Class on Museum Lighting: Options Beyond White LED,” presented methodologies for the effective use and evaluation of the new generation of LED lighting, including the accompanying control options for museum settings.
      Partners: Advanced Lighting Group; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; U.S. Department of Energy; The Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
  • Technical Studies
    The GCI undertakes scientific research to investigate questions of artists’ techniques, as well as authenticity and attribution, and to place this information in the context of understanding the physical properties and behavior of the materials comprising works of art and their conservation.
    • Athenian Pottery
      This National Science Foundation–funded project is researching the ceramic technology used to create red- and black-figure decorated vessels produced in Athens between the sixth and third century BCE. Using advanced analytical technologies, the chemistry and morphology of numerous ancient vessels was investigated. By comparing investigation results to replicate materials created under known firing conditions, ancient firing conditions were elucidated. These findings provide evidence of a more complex firing scheme than previously believed, including the use of multiple application/firing sequences, and are influencing the way these vessels are understood and interpreted. In FY16, the NSF-funded phase of the project was wrapped up. The results, published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional conferences, serve as a model and have inspired other institutions to (re)examine their collections.
      Partners: J. Paul Getty Museum; Stanford University/Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource; The Aerospace Corporation
  • Data Integration for Conservation Science (DISCO)
    This initiative seeks to improve the contribution of scientific and technical studies to the conservation and understanding of works of art through development of computer-assisted data integration tools that will facilitate extraction and sharing of new information by a broad community of users. In FY16, the project scope was finalized, and initial development of prototype software began.
  • Getty Museum Collaborative Projects
    Major technical studies of works from or on loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum in FY16 included: Portrait of an Old Man in Military Costume (Rembrandt) in which a digital color reconstruction of the hidden painting was developed; Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph (Guercino, National Gallery Ireland); Femme (Picacco, Beyler Foundation); The Adoration of the Kings (di Paolo, Kröller-Muller Museum), and the Branchini Madonna (di Paolo, Norton Simon Museum) in preparation for an upcoming exhibition; manuscript illuminations by Joris Hoefnagel, also as part of an upcoming exhibition; a selection of manuscript leaves painted by the Master of the Murano Gradual to investigate the use of early blue pigments (with Fitzwilliam Museum); manuscript illuminations from across the Byzantine Empire to investigate material dispersion and use; the Berthouville silver treasure to address questions of provenance and trade (with Bibliotheque Nationale France); the Statue of Tiberius and a bronze statuette of a Putto, both from Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze to investigate nineteenth-century restorations; and analysis of Fayum portraits in the Getty Museum’s collection as part of the APPEAR project. Additional work included the examination of objects being considered for acquisition by the J. Paul Getty Museum.
    • Pigments Research
      To support the technical studies of individual works of art, research was carried out to better understand pigment production, provenance, and aging behavior. Work continued on lapis lazuli, investigating the sulfur chemistry changes involved in the transformation of the rock to ultramarine blue pigment and a new project to study the chemistry and aging behavior of glass-based pigments was begun.
      Partners: J. Paul Getty Museum and additional external museum collaborators; Fitzwilliam Museum; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze; Bibliotech Nationale France; Beyler Foundation; Kroller Muller Museum; Norton Simon Museum; National Gallery of Ireland
  • Treatment Studies
    The GCI undertakes detailed investigations into conservation treatments and materials to advance conservation practice and to help optimize the effectiveness and safety of conservator’s interventions. These projects aim to advance conservation practice by evaluating and improving existing treatment methods and materials; by understanding better their impact on the composition, structure, and properties of objects; and by developing new approaches and technologies for treatment. Major projects included the evaluation of transparent protective coatings on outdoor metal sculpture and investigations into the strength and mechanical properties of canvas yarns after aqueous and/or light bleaching treatments designed for the removal of discoloration from Color Field paintings in acrylic paint on cotton canvas.
    Partners: J. Paul Getty Museum; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC


  • AATA Online (
    AATA Online is a free online research database for professionals engaged in the conservation and management of material cultural heritage in all of its forms: works of art, cultural objects, architectural heritage, and archaeological sites and materials. During this reporting period, AATA Online reviewed, abstracted, and indexed nearly 2,000 articles and papers from journals and conference proceedings that represent the field’s core literature. AATA Online had over 40,000 visitors to the site.
  • Information Center
    The Information Center supported the mission of the Institute by providing expertise and support to the work of conservation staff throughout the Getty and conservation professionals worldwide. The center responded to over 3,000 inquiries from staff, scholars, interns, and members of the interested public; acquired over 1,600 new titles for the Conservation Collection in the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, which increased the collection to the milestone of more than 50,000 titles; and contributed over 1,000 records to the Bibliographic Database of the Conservation Information Network (BCIN).
  • Publications and Dissemination
    During this recording period, the GCI published four books: Cave Temples of Mogao at Dunhuang: Art and History on the Silk Road, Second Edition; Polychrome Sculpture: Meaning, Form, Conservation; Made in Los Angeles: Materials Processes, and the Birth of West Coast Minimalism; and Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road. Two issues of Conservation Perspectives, The GCI Newsletter were also published, one commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the GCI, and the other on conservation in China. Published online in PDF format were twelve publications related to GCI projects, as well as ten previously published GCI books. On its social media channels, the GCI continued to grow its professional audience at a steady pace.
    The GCI’s website ( added 150 new pages, which included three new projects, forty-seven project updates, three new books, video documentation of two public lectures, and two project videos. Staff continued work on various enhancements to the GCI’s extensive website, including redesigned departmental pages, an updated organizational chart, and fifty newly added staff biographies.
    In conjunction with the exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, six short videos, each illustrating a conservation issue of the wall paintings in Cave 85, were created for in-gallery viewing. Four longer-length videos, including an overview video, and videos on the preservation of the site, conservation of wall paintings, and the creation of the replica caves were also created for in-gallery viewing. All of the videos were also made available on the Getty’s website. An extensive program of lectures, performances, residencies, and a film screening were developed to complement the exhibition, with five of these events taking place in FY16.