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Guide to the Getty Center Site Planning and Construction Photographs, 1947-1997, undated
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative History
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Getty Center site planning and construction photographs
    Date (inclusive): 1947, 1958, 1963, 1978, 1982, 1984-1997, undated (bulk 1984-1997)
    Number: IA40001
    Creator/Collector: J. Paul Getty Trust. Building Program
    Physical Description: 108.09 linear feet (113 boxes and 4 flat files)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Records comprise photographic prints, snapshots, contact sheets, slides, and negatives, dating 1947-1997 (bulk 1984-1997), that were created and maintained by the J. Paul Getty Trust Building Program. Images document the planning and building of the Getty Center in Brentwood, California by Richard Meier & Partners and the Dinwiddie Construction Company.
    Request Materials: To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy . See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Administrative History

    The Getty Center opened in 1997 as a multifaceted campus located in Brentwood, California, including modern architecture, gardens, and fountains. The Getty Center is owned and operated by the J. Paul Getty Trust, a cultural and philanthropic organization. The Trust is a not-for-profit institution, educational in purpose and character, that focuses on the visual arts in all of their dimensions. The Center is home to the Trust and its four programs: the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Museum and the Conservation Institute also maintain operations at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, the original site of the Museum.
    The decision to build the Getty Center was a defining moment in the history of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The reasons for that decision were both practical and philosophical. Originally established in 1953, the Trust was the result of J. Paul Getty's desire to open a "small, private museum" in the house he had purchased, which was nestled in the hills near Malibu, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The museum opened in 1954 and in 1968 Mr. Getty decided to build a Roman style villa to house his growing collection of art work. The new J. Paul Getty Museum, otherwise known as the Getty Villa, opened six years later.
    When most of Mr. Getty's personal estate passed to the Trust in 1982, the Trustees decided that, given the size of the endowment, it should make a greater contribution to the visual arts and humanities than the museum could alone. A proposal was formulated that, in addition to an expanded museum, called for a group of independent but related programs devoted to scholarship, conservation, and education. The original programs, some of which have since dissolved or evolved into other entities, were the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities (now the Getty Research Institute), the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Center for Education in the Arts, the Getty Art History Information Program, and the Getty Grant Program (now the Getty Foundation). Due to a lack of space at the original J. Paul Getty Museum site the Trust and its program offices were originally scattered throughout the Los Angeles basin.
    It soon became clear that these new programs, along with the expansion of the Museum's collections, required a larger and more unified main campus facility to accommodate what the Trust envisioned for its extended mission. Expanding the Villa site for this purpose was impossible. A roughly 750-acre property in Brentwood (in west Los Angeles) was purchased by the Trust in 1983 and the following year Richard Meier & Partners was chosen to design the Getty Center, which would house the Trust, its newly created programs, and an additional space for the Museum. In 1984 Steve Rountree was appointed Director of the Trust's Getty Center Building Program, which included responsibility for all aspects of the project development, design, and construction of the Getty Center campus in Brentwood. After three years of design, discussions, and approvals, construction began in 1987 under the guidance of the Dinwiddie Construction Company (which had also built the Getty Villa in the early 1970s). A decade later, and forty-three years after the original J. Paul Getty Museum had opened in Mr. Getty's Ranch House, the Getty Center officially opened to the public on December 17, 1997.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    The records described in accession 1997.IA.10 are available for use by qualified researchers. The exception being box 3, which may contain restricted material that must be removed prior to access by researchers.
    The records described in accessions 1997.IA.02, 2007.IA.43 and 2008.IA.58 are available for use by qualified researchers.
    The following types of records are permanently closed: records containing personal information, records that compromise security or operations, legal communications, legal work product, and records related to donors. The J. Paul Getty Trust reserves the right to restrict access to any records held by the Institutional Archives.
    Researchers must wear cotton gloves when handling photographic materials.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item and series (as appropriate)], Getty Center Site Planning and Construction Photographs, J. Paul Getty Trust Building Program. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA40001.

    Acquisition Information

    The materials described in this finding aid originated in accessions 1997.IA.02, 1997.IA.10, 2007.IA.43, and 2008.IA.58.

    Processing Information note

    Inventory list started circa 2003. Physical processing and finding aid completed by Michael Beck in February 2010. Image counts are an estimation. The terms "prints" and "snapshots" are interchangable. Katie Duvall added accession 1997.IA.02 to the finding aid in 2012.

    Appraisal note

    Two copies, maximum, of each photograph have been retained. Photocopies have been discarded.

    Related Materials

    Contributing Institution: Getty Research Institute, Research Library
    Hackman, William & Greenburg, Mark. Inside the Getty. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.
    Deal, Joe. Between nature and culture: photographs of the Getty Center. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, circa 1999.
    Contributing Institution: Getty Institutional Archives
    Image Library, J. Paul Getty Trust Communications Department. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA30004.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Records comprise photographic prints, contact sheets, slides, transparencies, and negatives, dating 1947-1997 (bulk 1984-1997), that were created, collected, and maintained by the J. Paul Getty Trust Building Program. The images document the planning and building of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California by Richard Meier & Partners and the Dinwiddie Construction Company.
    The photographic records cover ground and aerial views of the Getty Center site before, during and after construction; the design of the Central Garden; visits to other art and cultural institutions; events related to planning and construction; images of both architectural drawings and models; and documentation of the stone materials used in the construction. Photographers represented include Vladimir Lange, Joe Deal, Dennis Keeley, Bruce Bourassa, Paul Slaughter, Charles Pasella, Tom Bonner, Dave Margolf and Jock Pottle along with Getty Staff members Steve Rountree, Tim Whalen, Ellen Wirth, Gloria Gerace, and Don Williamson. The majority of the aerial images can be attributed to Warren Aerial Photography, Inc.
    Fairly precise counts of images have been provided for each file based on the total number of images in each format including duplicates. Dimensions are related in inches unless otherwise noted.


    The records are organized into eight series:
    Series I. Views of the Getty Center site and surrounding area, 1947, 1958, 1963, 1978, 1982, 1984-1997, and undated (bulk 1984-1997);
    Series II. Central Garden, circa 1995, 1996, and undated;
    Series III. Visits to other sites, 1984-1992, 1994, and undated;
    Series IV. Events, 1984-1997;
    Series V. Photographs of architectural models, 1982, 1986-1994, and undated;
    Series VI. Photographs of architectural drawings, 1987-1988, 1990-1994, and undated;
    Series VII. Stone and quarries, 1990-1994;
    Series VIII. Miscellaneous images, 1982-1997, and undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Getty Center (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Archives

    Subjects - Topics

    Architectural photography--20th century
    Art museums--Design and construction
    Museum architecture--California--Los Angeles
    Museum buildings--Planning

    Subjects - Places

    Getty Center Gardens (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Contact sheets--20th century
    Negatives (photographic)--20th century
    Photographic prints--California--20th century
    Slides (photographs)--20th century


    Bourassa, Bruce
    Deal, Joe, 1947-
    Dinwiddie Construction Company
    Irwin, Robert, 1928-
    Keeley, Dennis
    Meier, Richard, 1934-
    Richard Meier & Partners
    Sekula, Allan
    Warren Aerial Photography, Inc.