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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]. 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.[1]



The GRI was originally called the "Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities", and was conceived as early as 1983.[2] Located in Santa Monica,[3] its first director (beginning in 1985) was Kurt W. Forster.[4]

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.[5] By 1996, the Center's name had been changed to "Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities",[6] and by 1999 it was known simply as "Getty Research Institute".[7]

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".[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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",[11] GRI absorbed "many of its functions".[12]

In 2000, Thomas E. Crow was selected as GRI director to replace Settis who had resigned in 1999.[13] Crow announced in October 2006 that he would be leaving for New York University.[14] Since November 2007 Thomas W. Gaehtgens has been GRI's director;[15] he was previously (1985–1986) a visiting scholar with the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities.[14][16]




Among other holdings, GRI's research library contains about 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogs; special collections; and two million photographs of art and architecture.[17]

Exhibitions and other events

GRI holds three public exhibitions per year in its gallery which "focus primarily on the special collections of the Research Library or on work produced by artists in residence".[18] For example, in 2005–2006 GRI held an exhibition entitled "Julius Shulman, Modernity and the Metropolis".[19] The exhibition traveled to the National Building Museum[20] and to the Art Institute of Chicago.[21]

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).[22]

Residential scholars program

The residential scholars program seeks to "integrate the often isolated territory of art history into the wider sphere of the humanities".[16] 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".[16] 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.[23][24][25]

Each year the scholars are invited to work on projects related to an annual theme.[26] In 2008–2009, the theme for the Getty Center is "Networks and Boundaries" and for the Getty Villa "The Power and Function of Ancient Images".[26] The lengths of stay vary: "Getty scholars are in residence for the academic year, visiting scholars for one to three months, and predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows for one year".[26]


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).[27] In addition, GRI publishes exhibition catalogs and other materials in hardcopy form.[27]

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 0892361352
  • 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 0892362464
  • 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 0892363355
  • 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 0892364688
  • Baca, Murtha. Introduction to metadata: pathways to digital information. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Information Institute, 1998. ISBN 0892365331
  • 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 0892365374
  • 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 0892365390
  • Phillips, Glenn, and Thomas E. Crow. Seeing Rothko. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2005. ISBN 0892367342
  • 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 9780892368693

Electronic databases

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

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.[31]

Senior staff

GRI's senior staff includes:[32]

  • Director: Thomas Gaehtgens
  • Chief Librarian: Susan M. Allen
  • Associate Director, Programs: Gail Feigenbaum
  • Associate Director, Administration, and Chief of Knowledge Management: Thomas Moritz

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.[33]


  1. ^ a b About the Research Institute (Research at the Getty). Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  2. ^ Isenberg, Barbara. Manuscripts rated top Getty acquisition. Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1983.
  3. ^ Getty Center acquires sculptor's archive. New York Times, April 23, 1985. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Muchnic, Suzanne. Getty Center's Kurt Forster resigns post. Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1992.
  5. ^ Briefing - Italian professor to join Getty. Daily News of Los Angeles, March 9, 1993.
  6. ^ Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities Announces 1996-97 Getty Scholars. Retrieved September 1, 2008.
  7. ^ The Getty Research Institute Announces 1999-2000 Getty Scholars. September 7, 1999. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  8. ^ Getty Research Institute. L.A. as Subject. Overview. 1999. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  9. ^ Johnson, Reed. Getty helping bring L.A. history together. Daily News of Los Angeles, June 8, 1999.
  10. ^ Getty Research Institute. L.A. as Subject. Home. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  11. ^ Fink, Eleanor E. The Getty Information Institute. A retrospective. D-Lib Magazine, March 1999, Volume 5, Issue 3. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  12. ^ Getty Research Institute. Getty Information Institute. Records, 1991-1999. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  13. ^ Encore - short subjects. Getty's choice. Orange County Register, February 20, 2000.
  14. ^ a b Thomas W. Gaehtgens named director of the Getty Research Institute. August 14, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  15. ^ Associated Press. German art historian to head Getty's research institute in LA. International Herald Tribune, August 14, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  16. ^ a b c Muchnic, Suzanne. Getty's visiting guinea pig scholars. Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1986.
  17. ^ Research Library Overview (Research at the Getty). Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  18. ^ Getty Research Institute. Exhibitions. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  19. ^ Getty Research Institute. Julius Shulman, modernity and the metropolis. October 11, 2005 - January 22, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  20. ^ National Building Museum. Julius Shulman: modernity and the metropolis. April 1, 2006 - July 30, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  21. ^ Art Institute of Chicago. Julius Shulman: modernity and the metropolis. September 2, 2006 - December 3, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  22. ^ Getty Research Institute. Colloquia, lectures, and workshops. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  23. ^ Gitlin, Todd. "I did not imagine that I lived in truth". New York Times, April 4, 1993. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  24. ^ Wolf, Christa. Medea: a modern retelling. New York: Nan A. Talese, 1998. ISBN 0385490607
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ a b c Getty Research Institute. Current Theme and Scholars in Residence. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  27. ^ a b Getty Research Institute. Publications Overview. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  28. ^ Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals. Retrieved September 1, 2008.
  29. ^ Getty Research Institute. Learn about the Getty Vocabularies. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  30. ^ Getty Research Institute. Bibliography of the History of Art. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  31. ^ OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Getty Vocabularies added to OCLC Terminologies Service. November 9, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  32. ^ Research Institute senior staff. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  33. ^ The J. Paul Getty Trust 2007 report. Retrieved August 31, 2008.


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