The J. Paul Getty Trust 2016 Report
Message from the Chair
Maria Hummer-Tuttle, Chair, Board of Trustees
The J. Paul Getty Trust
Protecting cultural heritage, the theme of this year’s annual report, speaks to the Getty’s extensive work around the world preserving our collective cultural inheritance. Essays in this report from each of the Getty’s four programs provide examples of projects done in fiscal year 2016. I'd like to thank Dr. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, for providing this report's opening essay.
I wish to draw particular attention to the Getty Conservation Institute’s (GCI) work with the American Schools of Oriental Research, and the implementation of their Arches software for monitoring Syrian cultural heritage sites. This work addresses the needs of the cultural heritage community in areas of data gathering, analysis, and monitoring—all vital to promoting cultural security.
In addition, the GCI and the Getty Foundation, in partnership with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics, have trained mosaic conservators in countries with significant collections, both in situ and in museums—these countries include Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Syria, and Tunisia. This work exemplifies the concept put forth by Getty President Jim Cuno when he suggests that cultural heritage belongs to all humanity, and thus developing innovative preventative measures requires collaborative solutions.
Threats to our joint cultural heritage come not just from the violent destruction caused by extremists or from natural disasters, but also from the less dramatic, but cumulatively serious harm from man’s neglect and nature’s accretion. Damage is done to the modern as well as the ancient, and attention must be paid to both. In this vein, the Foundation and the GCI have committed resources to conserving modern architecture locally and internationally through the Keeping It Modern and Conserving Modern Architecture initiatives. Each project is selected for the potential it has to serve as a model, providing new methods and standards of conservation that can be applied to other important architectural structures in the future.
Looking back at fiscal year 2016, I should remark on some of the exhibitions, acquisitions, and programming that resulted in our record attendance of over two million visitors. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World was the first major international exhibition of some fifty ancient bronzes from the Mediterranean region and beyond. The works represented the finest of these spectacular and rare bronze sculptures. This exhibition, a collaborative effort of the Getty Museum with colleagues in Italy and the National Gallery in Washington, DC, was recognized with numerous awards. The GCI and the Getty Research Institute (GRI) worked together with the Dunhuang Academy and Dunhuang Foundation to create an extraordinary exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, a first of this type of exhibition for the Getty. It included three full-scale replicas of the most exquisite of the Mogao grottoes near Dunhuang in northwestern China, carved into a cliff face and painted between the fourth and the fourteenth century. Seldom-loaned art and rare objects, including the Diamond Sutra, the world’s oldest dated complete printed book, originally in the so-called Library Cave, were an extraordinary part of this exhibition.
Of the additions to the Getty’s collections in 2016, great attention was paid to the Museum acquisition of the seventeenth-century masterpiece, Danae, by Gentileschi; a rare illuminated Flemish manuscript; and two important ancient Greek and Roman objects. Additionally, the GRI continued to expand its holdings with the archive of Los Angeles curator Maurice Tuchman.
One of the Getty’s strategic priorities is to achieve leadership in online access to art, archives, and digital publications—both for professionals and for the general public. The GRI is now digitizing approximately 952 books per month from its collection, a 97 percent increase over the previous year. Publications the GRI has digitized and made available through the Internet Archive have been downloaded more than fourteen million times to date.
In this fiscal year, the GRI launched the Getty Scholars’ Workspace, a free, open source, online research tool that supports and enables collaborative art historical and humanities research. The trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Arts, and Science under auspices of the Rijksmuseum that outlines a future of digital innovation in the visual arts. The Getty also launched Art + Ideas, a podcast featuring conversations between Jim Cuno and artists and other creative thinkers. The Getty’s commitment to leadership in the accelerating digital field was further strengthened in August 2016 through the addition of Richard Fagen as vice president, Computing and Digital Initiatives, who has joined the Getty from Caltech, where he was the university’s chief information officer.
The Getty honored Frank Gehry with the J. Paul Getty Medal at its third annual Getty Medal Dinner in the fall of 2015. Frank’s extraordinary vision, disciplined practice, and use of new technologies has changed the course of architecture. In October 2016, Ellsworth Kelly received the J. Paul Getty Medal posthumously for his prolific, long career producing strong, lyrical work that changed the perception and understanding of abstract art. Yo-Yo Ma was also recognized, not only for his peerless artistic excellence, but also for his commitment to the preservation and presentation of the diversity of the world’s musical heritage.
We believe that the Getty can and should continue to serve as a catalyst in uniting organizations toward the achievement of a common goal. The Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (Los Angeles/Latin America) initiative is a significant example. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, which will launch in September of 2017, will bring together more than seventy cultural organizations from across Southern California to focus on Latin American and Latino art from the ancient world to the present day. The Getty Foundation has provided more than $15 million in grants to date to support scholarly research and to assist in funding many of the exhibitions. I want to thank the Pacific Standard Time Leadership Council, a group of generous donors, for their support. Together with foundation and corporate donations, they are funding a campaign to create broad awareness of this initiative.
Indeed, on behalf of all the Trustees, I thank and recognize all the individuals, foundations and corporations whose membership in the Getty’s Councils and whose financial support and donations of works of art have strengthened the Getty in so many ways. The two new councils formed in 2016, the President’s International Council and the Museum Director’s Council, will add to the Getty’s ability to do more to achieve its mission, both in Los Angeles and globally.
The Getty’s Board of Trustees, who have the primary responsibility for ensuring the long-term success of this institution which we hold dear, said farewell this year to a valuable colleague, Jay Wintrob. Jay ably served the board for twelve years, and chaired the Finance Committee from 2008 until 2016. We welcomed Robert W. Lovelace, vice chairman of Capital Group, as the newest member of the board. Rob, whose father also was a Getty Trustee, brings financial expertise and a love of the visual arts.
Having completed my first year as chair of the Getty’s board, my admiration has grown for the groundbreaking work being done across both campuses by talented staff. The Getty makes art more accessible and available through its commitment to open content. In its science labs, the Getty finds new ways to conserve works of art. Significant projects that might otherwise be left undone are funded through the Getty’s strategic philanthropy. Scholars use the Getty’s rich archives to bring to light new findings that expand our understanding of the history of art. Through its own collections, and in collaboration with museums around the world, the Getty opens eyes and stimulates minds. Of our over two million visitors last year, 174,000 were school children; 134,000 of these students were from Title I schools; the Getty paid for the bus transportation for 87 percent of these children. We are committed to do more for children most in need. The Getty is an inspiring place. I am so very proud and humbled to represent it.