May 17, 2011"I am sorry that my schedule does not allow me to join you today in Aidone, but am grateful to Assessore regionale Missineo for his very kind invitation and for allowing me to share with you my remarks on this special occasion in Sicily.
"Today marks a new chapter in the history of the ancient sculpture known as the Statue of a Goddess. For 22 years, this magnificent object was on view half way across the world at the Getty Museum. We had the opportunity not only to study her with scholars and specialists, but also to share her with the countless number of visitors that came to see her in Los Angeles.
"The decision to return this statue to Sicily was a turning point in the history of the Getty's antiquities collection, one that was fraught with much debate. However, in the end, based on scholarly and reasoned research, it was, without a doubt, the right decision.
"We entrust this extraordinary sculpture to our colleagues and friends in Aidone. We know that she will be given the same quality of care that she has enjoyed at the Getty Museum and that she will serve as an inspiration for the many new visitors that will come to see her in her new home, this beautifully renovated gallery of the Museo Archeologico.
"Today, the Getty Museum enjoys a renewed relationship with our colleagues throughout Italy. This relationship brought the exquisite Chimaera of Arezzo from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze to the United States for the very first time and, from the Muzeo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, two exceptional bronze sculptures: the Efebo Lampadoforo and the Apollo Saettante. The Apollo was the subject of a year-long conservation project at the Getty Villa that is currently the focus of a major exhibition. In a few months it will return to Naples restabilized and cleaned, and ready for display in their galleries.
"With our colleagues in Sicily, we signed an agreement last year that has already resulted in several wonderful collaborations: a seismic mitigation conference that took place in Palermo last October; and, the loan of two masterpieces from the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento, both of which have now been equipped with specially-designed seismic isolation bases that will help protect them from earthquakes, similar to the one underneath the Statue of a Goddess.
"These are just the first of several collaborations, which will include loans, conservation, and exhibitions celebrating Sicily's history and cultural contributions, and introducing the region to new audiences in Los Angeles and throughout the world.
"I am very pleased that my colleagues, Dr. Karol Wight and Dr. Claire Lyons, are able to be with you today to represent the Getty Museum. Together, they have been responsible for forging our new relationship with Italy in collaboration with their counterparts in Rome, Florence, Naples, and Sicily. I am grateful for their contributions.
"The Getty prides itself on the projects we have undertaken with our Italian colleagues. Each of these efforts helps share your rich culture and history with the world. We remain committed to these types of cultural collaborations as they greatly the experience we are able to offer our museum visitors in Los Angeles and they make significant contributions to the history of art for future generations.
"Once again, I offer my congratulations to our colleagues at the Museo Archeologico in Aidone, and particularly Enrico Caruso, for this new gallery space. I look forward to one day visiting the museum and seeing this beloved statue's new home."
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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.
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The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.