Getty Research Institute

The Getty Research Institute (GRI), located at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, is "dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts".[1]

Getty Research Institute
FounderJ. Paul Getty
FocusDedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts
MethodGrants, research
OwnerJ. Paul Getty Trust

A program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, GRI maintains a research library, organizes exhibitions and other events, sponsors a residential scholars program, publishes books, and produces electronic databases (Getty Publications).[1]


The GRI was originally called the "Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities", and was first discussed in 1983.[2] Located in Santa Monica,[3] its first director (beginning in 1985) was Kurt W. Forster.[4] GRI's library had 30,000 volumes in 1983, but grew to 450,000 volumes by 1986.[5]

In a statement upon his departure in 1992, Forster summarized his tenure as "Beginning with the rudiments of a small museum library... the center grew... to become one of the nation's preeminent research centers for arts and culture...".[4] In 1994, Salvatore Settis, a professor of the history of classical art and archeology in Italy, became the director of the Center.[6] By 1996, the Center's name had been changed to "Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities",[7] and by 1999 it was known simply as "Getty Research Institute".[8]

Among GRI's special projects was "L.A. as Subject: The Transformative Culture of Los Angeles Communities" conducted between 1995 and 1999, whose purposes included "enhanc[ing] existing resources and develop new resources that support new research scholarship on LA and also encourag[ing] the preservation, conservation, and display of local material culture".[9]

In collaboration with local organizations, GRI published Cultural Inheritance/L.A.: A Resource Directory of Less Visible Archives and Collections in the Los Angeles Region in 1999.[10] In 2000, the L.A. as Subject project was transferred to the University of Southern California, which continues to update and expand an online version of the resource directory.[11]

When the Getty Information Institute (formerly the Art History Information Program, established in 1983) was dissolved in 1999 as a "result of a change of leadership at the Getty Trust",[12] GRI absorbed "many of its functions".[13][14]

In 2000, Thomas E. Crow was selected as GRI director to replace Settis who had resigned in 1999.[15] Crow announced in October 2006 that he would be leaving for New York University.[16] Since November 2007 Thomas W. Gaehtgens has been GRI's director;[17] he was previously (1985–86) a visiting scholar with the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities.[5][16]



Among other holdings, GRI's research library contains over 1 million volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogs; special collections; and two million photographs of art and architecture.[18]

Already by 1985, the Getty had acquired the complete archive of the American sculptor Malvina Hoffman. In 2011, it acquired Harald Szeemann’s substantial archive, consisting of more than 1,000 boxes of correspondence, research files, drawings, and ephemera, as well as some 28,000 books and 36,000 photographs.[19] It also owns several art dealers' archives, including records for the Goupil & Cie and Boussod Valadon galleries, Knoedler Gallery, and the Duveen Brothers.[20]

The library is located at the Getty Center, and does not circulate its collections, but does extend library privileges to any visitor.[21]

Exhibitions and other events

GRI holds two public exhibitions per year in its two galleries which "focus primarily on the special collections of the Research Library or on work produced by artists in residence".[22] For example, in 2005–2006 GRI held an exhibition entitled "Julius Shulman, Modernity and the Metropolis".[23] The exhibition traveled to the National Building Museum[24] and to the Art Institute of Chicago.[25]

In addition to exhibitions, GRI organizes lectures (open to the public), colloquia (most open to the public), workshops (by invitation only), and screenings of films and videos (open to the public).[26]

Residential scholars program

The residential scholars program seeks to "integrate the often isolated territory of art history into the wider sphere of the humanities".[5] The first class of scholars arrived in 1985–1986; they had their salaries paid for and their housing provided but were under "absolutely no obligation to produce".[5] Among the notable scholars was German writer Christa Wolf in 1993–1994, who wrote the novel Medea: a modern retelling during her year at GRI.[27][28][29]

Each year the scholars are invited to work on projects related to an annual theme.[30] In 2008–2009, the theme for the Getty Center was "Networks and Boundaries" and for the Getty Villa "The Power and Function of Ancient Images".[30] The lengths of stay vary: Getty scholars are in residence for three, six or nine months,[31] visiting scholars for one to three months,[32] and predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows for a nine-month academic year.[33] In 2011–12, the theme was "Artistic Practice".[34]


GRI publishes "Series Imprints" books in the categories of "Issues and Debates", "Texts & Documents", "Introduction To" (on "cultural heritage information in electronic form"), and "ReSources" (on the library's special collections).[35] In addition, GRI publishes exhibition catalogs and other materials in hardcopy form.[35]

Here are selected books published by GRI, by the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, by the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, by the Getty Information Institute, or by the Art History Information Program.

  • Bakewell, Elizabeth, et al. Object, image, inquiry: the art historian at work: report on a collaborative study by the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP) and the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS), Brown University. Santa Monica, CA: AHIP, 1988. ISBN 0-89236-135-2
  • Gaehtgens, Thomas W., and Heinz Ickstadt. American icons: transatlantic perspectives on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American art. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities, 1992. ISBN 0-89236-246-4
  • Necipoglu, Gülru, and Mohammad Al-Asad. The Topkapi scroll: geometry and ornament in Islamic architecture: Topkapi Palace Museum Library MS H. 1956. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995. ISBN 0-89236-335-5
  • Roth, Michael S., Claire L. Lyons, and Charles Merewether. Irresistible decay: ruins reclaimed. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1997. ISBN 0-89236-468-8
  • Baca, Murtha. Introduction to metadata: pathways to digital information. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Information Institute, 1998. ISBN 0-89236-533-1
  • Warburg, Aby. The renewal of pagan antiquity: contributions to the cultural history of the European Renaissance. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1999. ISBN 0-89236-537-4
  • Paul, Carole, and Alberta Campitelli. Making a prince's museum: drawings for the late-eighteenth-century redecoration of the Villa Borghese. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Research Institute, 2000. ISBN 0-89236-539-0
  • Phillips, Glenn, and Thomas E. Crow. Seeing Rothko. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2005. ISBN 0-89236-734-2
  • Reed, Marcia, and Paola Demattè. China on paper: European and Chinese works from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2007. ISBN 978-0-89236-869-3

Electronic databases

Among the electronic databases from the former Getty Information Institute that GRI continues to produce are:

  • Getty Vocabulary Program databases (Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and Union List of Artist Names (ULAN))[36]
  • Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)[37]
  • Getty Provenance Index which holds records of collections, auction sales and other information for researching the art market and the provenance of works.[38]
  • The Getty Research Portal provides free access to fully digitized art history texts in the public domain. The database launched in 2012 and is a collaboration with libraries that are digitizing art history books. Initial contributors include the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Málaga, the Frick Art Reference Library, the Getty Research Institute, the Heidelberg University Library, the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, members of the New York Art Resources Consortium, and the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[39]

In 2006, GRI and the OCLC Online Computer Library Center announced that the Getty Vocabularies (Art & Architecture Thesaurus, Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names, and Union List of Artist Names) will be available as a Web service.[40]

Until July 1, 2009, the Getty Information Institute and later GRI co-produced the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals with the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. On that date, GRI transferred the database back to Columbia University, which continues to maintain it.[41]

The Getty Research Institute also participates in the German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP), which trains researchers specializing in Holocaust-era provenance projects.[42]

Senior staff

GRI's senior staff includes:[43]

  • Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Director
  • Andrew Perchuk, Deputy Director
  • Gail Feigenbaum, Associate Director
  • David Farneth, Assistant Director
  • Kathleen Salomon, Assistant Director
  • Marcia Reed, Chief Curator

Employees and budget

During the period July 2006 – June 2007, GRI had approximately 200 full-time and part-time employees, and a budget of $63.7 million.[44]


  1. About the Research Institute (Research at the Getty) Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  2. Isenberg, Barbara. Manuscripts rated top Getty acquisition. Los Angeles Times, p. H1, March 10, 1983.
  3. Getty Center acquires sculptor's archive. New York Times, April 23, 1985. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  4. Muchnic, Suzanne. Getty Center's Kurt Forster resigns post. Los Angeles Times, p. 6, March 20, 1992.
  5. Muchnic, Suzanne. Getty's visiting guinea pig scholars. Los Angeles Times, p. 98, August 10, 1986.
  6. Briefing - Italian professor to join Getty. Daily News of Los Angeles, March 9, 1993.
  7. Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities Announces 1996-97 Getty Scholars. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  8. The Getty Research Institute Announces 1999-2000 Getty Scholars. September 7, 1999. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  9. "L.A. as Subject. Overview". Getty Research Institute. 1999. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  10. Johnson, Reed. Getty helping bring L.A. history together. Daily News of Los Angeles, June 8, 1999.
  11. "L.A. as Subject. Home". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  12. Fink, Eleanor E. The Getty Information Institute. A retrospective. D-Lib Magazine, March 1999, Volume 5, Issue 3. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  13. "Getty Research Institute. Records, 1991-1999". Library Catalog Entry. Getty Trust. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  14. Johnson, Reed (October 6, 1998). "Getty Trust Plans Moves to Cut Costs, Raise Funds". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  15. Encore - short subjects. Getty's choice. Orange County Register, February 20, 2000.
  16. Thomas W. Gaehtgens named director of the Getty Research Institute. August 14, 2007. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  17. Associated Press. "German art historian to head Getty's research institute in LA." International Herald Tribune, August 14, 2007.
  18. Research Library Overview (Research at the Getty). Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  19. Kate Taylor (June 7, 2011), Getty Acquires Vast Archive of Post-War Art Documents New York Times.
  20. Carol Vogel (October 18, 2012), Getty Institute Buys Knoedler Gallery Archive New York Times.
  21. "Library Access and Reader Privileges". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  22. "Exhibitions". Getty Research Institute. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  23. Getty Research Institute. Julius Shulman, modernity and the metropolis. October 11, 2005 - January 22, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  24. National Building Museum. Julius Shulman: modernity and the metropolis. April 1, 2006 - July 30, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  25. Art Institute of Chicago. Julius Shulman: modernity and the metropolis. Archived 2006-12-01 at the Wayback Machine September 2, 2006 - December 3, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  26. Getty Research Institute. Colloquia, lectures, and workshops. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  27. Gitlin, Todd. "I did not imagine that I lived in truth". New York Times, April 4, 1993. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  28. Wolf, Christa. Medea: a modern retelling. New York: Nan A. Talese, 1998. ISBN 0-385-49060-7
  29. Slavitt, David R. Revenge fantasy. Christa Wolf puts a late-20th-century spin on the story of Jason and Medea. New York Times, June 14, 1998. Retrieved September 2, 2008. (paid site)
  30. Getty Research Institute. Past Themes & Scholars. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  31. "Getty Scholar Grants". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  32. "Library Research Grants". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  33. "Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  34. "Scholars & Projects". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  35. Getty Research Institute. Publications Overview. Archived 2008-05-14 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  36. Getty Research Institute. Learn about the Getty Vocabularies. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  37. Getty Research Institute. Bibliography of the History of Art. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  38. Collecting and Provenance Research, Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  39. "Getty Research Portal". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  40. OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Getty Vocabularies added to OCLC Terminologies Service. November 9, 2006. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  41. "Avery Index Returns to Columbia University". Columbia University. July 1, 2009. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  42. "German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals, 2017-2019". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  43. "Research Institute senior staff". Getty Trust. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  44. "The J. Paul Getty Trust 2007 report" (PDF). p. 76. Retrieved June 17, 2011.

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