January 24, 2005
LOS ANGELES—The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) works on a range of projects with international partners to advance conservation practice and to enhance the preservation and understanding of the visual arts, including historic buildings and sites. From projects at home in Los Angeles to others in China, South Africa, and the Maya region, the Getty works to preserve the cultural heritage of communities large and small.
The GCI’s work focuses on the long term with projects that can have an impact beyond a single place or context. Efforts concentrate on producing research that can be used by conservation professionals around the world caring for sites or collections. Findings from the GCI’s research on modern paints, for example, will help determine ways to appropriately clean and treat a broad spectrum of modern paintings, while research on photographs will affect how chemical-based prints can be preserved for generations to come. GCI projects also cover the education and training of conservation professionals, including the launch of a new master’s degree program in archaeological and ethnographic conservation. Among the newer GCI collaborative projects is one focused on helping to rebuild the capacity of Iraqi cultural authorities to halt further damage to Iraq’s cultural heritage. The following is a list of GCI projects around the world.
Alternative Climate Controls for Historic Buildings
The goal of this project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of using controlled ventilation and heating or dehumidification as climate control strategies that can improve the interior environment for collections housed in historic buildings located in hot and humid regions.
Working with the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage and in collaboration with the Australian Heritage Commission (now the Australian Heritage Council), the GCI assisted in the development of the China Principles, which established national guidelines for the conservation of the country’s vast cultural heritage. The project is now applying these guidelines at selected sites in China.
Conservation of América Tropical
The GCI is working with the City of Los Angeles to complete the conservation of América Tropical, a 1932 mural by the David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the great Mexican muralists of the 20th century. The project includes the construction of a shelter, viewing platform, and an interpretive center that will place the mural—unseen by the public in over six decades—in its historical and artistic context.
Conservation of Mosaics in Situ
This collaborative project addresses a number of important issues—including technician training at various ancient sites in Tunisia and research, testing, and management planning at sites in Israel—related to the conservation and management of ancient mosaic pavements in situ in the Mediterranean region.
Conservation Teaching Resource
This project has developed a Web site that includes a variety of resources for conservation educators that were originally produced by the GCI as part of its courses, workshops, and other education projects.
Contemporary Art Research: Modern Paints
The GCI is working with Tate in London and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., to develop analytical techniques for identifying modern paint media and to evaluate cleaning methods and techniques for modern paintings. This research will help to identify the new pigments and synthetic binders developed and used in the production of modern paints, and provide an understanding of how they might alter with age or be affected by conservation treatments.
Directors' Retreats for the Advancement of Conservation Education
The primary goal of this project is the enhancement of conservation education by providing senior-level educators opportunities for reflection, discussion, and renewal.
Historic Resources Survey Project
The goals of this project are to research the objectives, methods, funding, and incentives employed in a comprehensive citywide survey in Los Angeles and to workwith city decision-makers and stakeholders to implement a survey program.
Iraq Cultural Heritage Conservation Initiative
This initiative—in partnership with the World Monuments Fund and the Iraq State Board of Antiquities—aims to mitigate threats and repair damage sustained by Iraq’s cultural heritage, and to rebuild the country’s professional conservation and heritage-management capacity.
The initiative focuses on the conservation of cultural heritage in the Maya region, with collaborative field projects in El Salvador and Honduras. It aims to reinforce and develop conservation practices through collaborative efforts in order to resolve common problems in the region.
Museums Emergency Program Education Initiative
As part of Museums Emergency Program of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the Getty Conservation Institute is collaborating with ICOM and ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) in an education initiative aimed at assisting museums to develop emergency preparedness and response measures.
Museum Lighting Research
This project seeks to reduce the damage to works on paper caused by museum lighting through the reevaluation of current illumination guidelines and the testing and design of new lighting by the GCI and other institutions.
Organic Materials in Wall Paintings
The GCI is working with a number of institutions in Italy to improve the practice of wall paintings conservation by developing a methodology for the identification of organic materials used as binders, which are particularly vulnerable during intervention.
Preservation of Lime Mortars and Plasters
The aim of this research project is to increase knowledge among conservators and conservation scientists regarding the analysis and treatment of lime-based mortars and plasters.
Recording, Documentation, and Information Management (RecorDIM) Initiative
This collaborative initiative is exploring ways to improve communication between those that produce recording and documentation tools and those in the conservation field who utilize these tools to record and document built heritage and who manage the information produced by these tools.
Reference and Standards Collection
This project involves reorganization and revitalization of the GCI reference collection of art-related materials into a comprehensive tool for art conservation research.
Research on the Conservation of Photographs
The goal of this project—a collaboration with the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester and the Centre de recherches sur la conservation des documents graphiques in Paris—is to advance techniques for identifying important variations in photographic processes, thereby providing insight into post processing chemistry and chemical treatment of photographs.
Research on the Retreatability of Surface Treatments on Stone
The purpose of this project is to better understand the ways in which conservation surface treatments on stone deteriorate with age, to determine which tools are appropriate to monitor this change, and to investigate non-destructive testing techniques.
This research project aims to improve scientific understanding of how stone deteriorates due to the action of water and salts, and to develop effective mitigation and conservation procedures.
Southern African Rock Art Project
This GCI-led initiative seeks to develop an interpretation and management plan for education and tourism at an appropriate site in South Africa that will serve as a model for sustainable conservation and community participation.
The GCI is collaborating with the International Centre for Earth Construction–School of Architecture of Grenoble and ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) to further earthen architectural heritage conservation worldwide through international institutional cooperation in the areas of training, research, and advocacy, and through joint field projects.
Tomb of Nefertari Evaluation Project
This project will assess the 1986-1992 wall paintings conservation project undertaken by the GCI and Egyptian antiquities authorities and the subsequent management and maintenance plan developed for the tomb in light of its availability to visitors from 1996 to 2003.
UCLA/Getty Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation
This new master's degree program—the only U.S. conservation program with its sole focus on archaeological and ethnographic conservation—is a partnership of the Cotsen
Institute of Archaeology at UCLA and the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Wall Paintings at Mogao Grottoes
The GCI is working with the Dunhuang Academy in China to research wall paintings deterioration in the Buddhist grottoes at Mogao, and to develop conservation methods that can be applied at similar Silk Road sites.
Getty Communications Department
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