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Guide to the J. Paul Getty Museum Guest Scholar and Conservator Files, 1978-2005
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Guest scholar and conservator files
    Date (inclusive): 1978-2005
    Number: IA10013
    Creator/Collector: J. Paul Getty Museum
    Physical Description: 7.25 linear feet (6 boxes and 9 binders)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The records comprise files relating to J. Paul Getty Museum guest scholars, visiting conservators and general program files, dating 1978-1996, in addition to photograph albums dating 1979-2005. Files include general and personal information regarding visitors as well as information and photographs documenting their scholarly activities and their time at the Museum.
    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

    Biography/Administrative History

    The J. Paul Getty Museum was established as a charitable trust in 1953 by billionaire J. Paul Getty in order to house his growing art collections. Getty had been collecting art since the 1930s. The J. Paul Getty Museum originally opened in 1954, with relatively little publicity, in two rooms of Mr. Getty's Ranch House in the Pacific Palisades near Malibu, California. By August 1955 the museum in the Ranch House had six gallery areas. In 1956 Mr. Getty began planning a new antiquities gallery, which was completed and opened to the public in mid-December 1957. Each year the number of museum visitors increased, and though Mr. Getty curtailed his art acquisitions activities beginning in 1958, the museum continued to grow.
    In the fall of 1968, after considering various options for expanding the Ranch House, Getty decided to build a separate museum facility on the same property. This new museum was designed in the form of a first-century Roman country house, based primarily on the plans of the ancient Villa dei Papiri just outside of Herculaneum, Italy. The new museum facility opened to the public on January 16, 1974. Although Getty retained the title of Museum Director over the years, he never left his home in England to visit the new museum building, effectively making the Museum Curator or Deputy Director the on-site director. Getty monitored every expense and purchase made by the museum, and staff regularly traveled to Sutton Place, his home outside London, to consult with him on museum matters.
    J. Paul Getty died in 1976 without ever seeing his new museum. Much to everyone's surprise Getty bequeathed almost his entire estate to the museum with a mission to promote “the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge." In 1981, when it became clear that the estate funds would soon be available, Harold M. Williams was hired as the first President of the museum trust. The trust then began a year of exploration to determine where it would focus its resources and energies in order to make the greatest possible contribution to the field of art and art history as a whole. The expansion of the Museum’s collections combined with the new programs proposed by the trust would require a facility beyond what the Villa site could accommodate. In 1983 the estate funds became available, the trust's name was officially changed from the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust to the J. Paul Getty Trust, and the museum retained the name the J. Paul Getty Museum. The following year Richard Meier & Partners was chosen to design the Getty Center to house the trust, its newly created programs, and a second site for the Museum.
    Today the J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic organization serving both general audiences and specialized professionals. The Trust is a not-for-profit institution, educational in purpose and character, that focuses on the visual arts in all of their dimensions. As of 2009 the Trust supports and oversees four programs: the Getty Foundation; the Getty Conservation Institute; and the Getty Research Institute; and J. Paul Getty Museum. The Museum serves a wide variety of audiences through its expanded range of exhibitions and programming in the visual arts from two locations in the Los Angeles area: the Getty Villa near Malibu and the Getty Center in Brentwood.
    The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Center, which opened to the public in 1997, houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa underwent extensive renovation and expansion from 1997-2006 and reopened to the public on January 28, 2006. The Villa houses works of art from the Museum's collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. The J. Paul Getty Museum seeks to further knowledge of the visual arts by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting works of art of the highest quality. The Center and the Villa serve diverse audiences through the Museum's permanent collection, changing exhibitions, conservation, scholarship, research, and public programs.
    The Department of Academic Affairs was created in 1978 to act as a liaison between the J. Paul Getty Museum, other museums, scholarly institutions, and individuals concerned with the study of art history and conservation. It was intended to maximize the full educational potential of all departments in the Museum and to propose and administer scholarly programs and projects. (The department was not charged with the education of the general public or of primary and secondary school students, which was instead the concern of the Department of Public Information at the time.) In 1986 Academic Affairs was merged into the Education Department, which was thereafter known as "Education and Academic Affairs" until the "Academic Affairs" was finally dropped from the title.
    Under the guest scholar and visiting conservator programs, specific curatorial programs and conservation departments sponsored guest scholars or conservators for long-term residence and study at the Museum or for week-long seminars and consultation. The Education Department continued to operate the Museum Scholar program until that function was transferred to the Getty Research Institute's Department of Research and Education in 1997 (starting with the 1997-1998 Scholar Year).

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    The records described in accession 2006.IA.25 are available for use by qualified researchers.
    The records in accession 2007.IA.07, subject to review for permanently closed information, are open to qualified researchers. Requests for access will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
    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.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item and series (as appropriate)], J. Paul Getty Museum Guest Scholar and Conservator Files, J. Paul Getty Museum. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA10013.

    Acquisition Information

    2007.IA.07, transferred from the office of the Associate Director of Collections, J. Paul Getty Museum.

    Processing History

    Records physically processed and described by Nancy Enneking and Rebecca Fenning, March-May 2007.


    General administrative information has been weeded from the guest scholar and visiting conservator files, leaving only information on the scholars and the work they accomplished with the support of the Getty. Materials weeded from the files of individuals include: orders for copies of publications, memoranda regarding mail, shipping, housing logistics, building access, parking forms, scheduling and funding details, as well as standard correspondence regarding administrative issues, photocopies of pay checks and insurance information, photocopies of publications, emergency contact information, visa and social security number application data, etc.

    Related Archival Materials Note

    The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the people, programs, and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.
    Contributing Institution: Getty Institutional Archives
    Audiorecordings of Lectures and Symposia, 1987-2001, Getty Research Institute, Department of Research and Education. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA20026.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Records consist of files relating to J. Paul Getty Museum guest scholars and visiting conservators and a number of general program administrative and policy files, dating 1978-1997, as well as photograph albums documenting the activities of museum scholars, dating 1979-2005. Each individual has a file containing both general and personal information. Files contain documents that may include a basic checklist of activities performed to prepare for the scholar, correspondence offering and accepting the visiting position, correspondence discussing scholars' research and activities, notices of lectures or seminars delivered by the scholars, the application/nomination form, and resumes. The amount of material in each file varies depending on the individual and the administrative procedures that may have been in place during the time of their visit to the Getty.
    Records also include general administrative and policy materials related to these programs, such as blank forms and form letters, tax policy and visa information, library and technology access and other items.
    Photograph albums contain largely informal snapshots documenting day-to-day life and scholar activities at the Getty, taken at luncheons, lectures, exhibition openings, scholar housing and offices as well as other social events. Most images are photographic prints, but the albums also contain negatives and slides. Most photographs are not labeled.


    These records are organized in two series: Series I. Guest scholar and visiting conservator files, 1978-1996 Series II. Museum scholar photographs, 1979-2005

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Getty Research Institute

    Subjects - Topics

    Art historians--Research
    Art museums--Educational aspects
    Learning and scholarship

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Forms (documents)
    Photographic prints