In the previous issue of Conservation, The GCI Newsletter, we commemorated this tenth anniversary of the Getty Conservation Institute by taking a general retrospective look at the Institute's growth and development.
In this issue of Conservation, we examine some specific, selected highlights of the Institute's work in the four categories that encompass the GCI's efforts—objects and collections, archaeological sites and monuments, historic structures and cities, and public awareness and advocacy. These selections are not intended to provide a comprehensive view of the Institute's work but rather to offer a glimpse of the variety of endeavors undertaken by the staff.
The work described here reflects the range of the Institute's activities—from research on pollutants in museums and seismic mitigation measures for objects, to courses on conservation for archaeologists and the development of environmental monitoring stations. The scope of the Institute's work is equally broad, encompassing California colonial adobes, bas-reliefs in Benin, Chinese Buddhist shrines, and a historic city in Ecuador.
Because what can be defined as cultural heritage is broad and diverse, so too must be the efforts to preserve and protect it. In the next ten years, those who labor directly on conservation's behalf will be increasingly dependent on public awareness, for only with broad public support will the resources be available to preseve our wealth of heritage. One of the great challenges for the conservation profession in the years ahead is acquiring the skills of advocacy in the pursuit of its mandate. Creating a larger constituency for its work in ways that educate and excite is critical, if even a portion of what has been left to us is to survive.
Ultimately the preservation of cultural heritage is the responsibility of all of us—for we all draw inspiration, understanding, and a sense of identity from its presence. This heritage constitutes a series of landmarks in the evolution of civilization, and its loss obscures the road humanity has traveled through time. It is important to us—and to those who follow us—that the path our cultural heritage represents remain forever in view.
It is our collective memory that is at stake.
Conservation, The GCI Newsletter