By Timothy P. Whalen
This issue of Conservation, focused on the documentation of immovable heritage, is also a place to note a milestone for the Getty Conservation Institute. Twenty years ago, the first director of the GCI was appointed, and the staff moved into its first facility, in Marina del Rey, California.
The establishment of the Institute was the result of a significant decision by the Getty Trust—as part of its philanthropic mandate—to take a leadership role in conservation by addressing important needs of the field. This commitment by the Trust occurred at the beginning of a period of major growth in conservation, in terms of professionals, organizations, training, and public awareness. In its development as an organization, the GCI benefited from this growth and from the general flourishing of the conservation discipline. Since 1985, the board members and presidents of the Getty Trust have remained strongly committed to strengthening the field of conservation through the GCI's work in scientific research, model field projects, education and training, and the dissemination of information. Their steady support has been essential to the Institute's accomplishments.
In general terms, those accomplishments have included the development of expertise in a number of areas, among which are preventive conservation, methods for analysis of materials, conservation of wall paintings, earth and stone conservation, archaeological conservation, and site management. In order to advance conservation practice, the GCI has undertaken model field projects in Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe. In education, the Institute began by organizing courses for the profession; today it seeks to maximize its resources through collaborative initiatives that strengthen the existing educational infrastructure for conservation. In dissemination, the GCI maintains a multifaceted effort to share the results of its work and the work of others through a variety of means—from traditional publishing to electronic databases.
During this anniversary year, the GCI began a process of strategizing and prioritizing for the future. Our staff is currently engaged in charting the course of the Institute's work over the next five years, building on the GCI's established expertise while exploring new ways to benefit and serve the conservation profession.
Fundamentally, the achievements of the GCI are a measure of the skills, experience, patience, and dedication of its people. The staff of the GCI is the ultimate source of its strength as an institution. On behalf of that staff, I express our gratitude to the many colleagues and organizations around the world that over the last twenty years have shared our goals and have worked with us in pursuit of those goals. It is our hope that those relationships will continue to grow to the benefit of the field and that the next twenty years will witness a degree of progress that matches or exceeds that of the years that have now passed.