On May 20, 2009, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) honored the Getty Conservation Institute with the highest award it bestows on conservation organizations—the Distinguished Award for the Advancement of the Field of Conservation. The award was presented at the AIC's annual meeting, held this year in Los Angeles.

"The Getty Conservation Institute is well deserving of this award," said Eryl Wentworth, executive director of the AIC. "From its establishment, the GCI has supported professional development in conservation in so many ways—from education, to projects in the field, to conservation science research. Given the broad range of professional development opportunities they continually provide to the conservation profession, it's very appropriate that the GCI be honored in this way."

"I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the Getty Conservation Institute," said GCI director Tim Whalen. "At its core, the GCI's strength is, and always has been, the depth of its intellectual capital and the dedicated professionals and organizations with which it has had the privilege to work for so many years. This award is an important validation of our ongoing efforts, and we are very pleased to accept it."

Conceived in 1996, the AIC's Distinguished Award for the Advancement of the Field of Conservation recognizes vital and long-standing support of the professional development activities of conservators, and it has been given only seven times since its inception. Previous recipients include the Mellon Foundation, the Stanford University Libraries, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The Getty Grant Program, now known as the Getty Foundation, also garnered the award in 1996.