LOS ANGELES — The new and improved J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center brings the original collection from the Malibu villa and displays it in a vastly expanded setting.
New galleries bathe the paintings in natural light. Fourteen rooms evoking period design set off the extensive decorative-arts collection, and among other innovations, a family resource center helps guide children (and parents) through the whole concept of museumgoing.
If the museum is the flower of the Getty, the five institutes and grant program are the meat and potatoes. This is where the laborious, often unglamorous, yet core Getty work of arts preservation, education, and funding gets done.
The Conservation Institute exists to both help preserve and raise international awareness of the importance of often fragile world cultural-heritage sites. It currently has more than 130 projects under way in 35 countries. On the list: a royal tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Queens, 13th-century Chinese Buddhist grottoes, and 3.6-million-year-old footprints captured in Tanzanian mud.
Director Miguel Angel Corzo says, "We need to understand how our cultural heritage serves us, not just economically but in terms of its value to our daily lives."
Leilani Lattin Duke, director of the Education Institute for the Arts (GEI), points out that while many people theoretically are not opposed to arts curricula, when push comes to shove, lack of understanding about what that means often pushes the arts out of schools. "Arts education is a much broader, holistic effort, teaching children to see and think creatively. We hope to [help the public understand] that the arts are core instruction material instead of mere recreation."
To that end, the GEI has created a discipline-based arts-education concept that it uses to instruct US teachers. While it does not fund the program within school systems, core materials are available at the GEI Web site (www.artsednet.getty.edu).
The Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, which has been drawing scholars from around the world for more than a decade, is second in size only to the museum in its new home. The library houses more than 800,000 volumes and more than 2 million photographs. Seminars and public programs showcase thoughts of an eclectic mix of academics, musicians, writers, and scientists.
While the Getty is perceived as being a bottomless money pit, says director Deborah Marrow, "we're more interested in leveraging our investment than giving the whole thing." To that end, over the past 13 years the Grant Program has given out some 1,700 grants in 135 countries, totaling nearly $70 million.
The Information Institute is devoted to bringing the world closer to its cultural heritage by making it more accessible. This institute is at the cutting edge of computer digital technology, committed to creating a strong presence on various emerging communications networks such as the World Wide Web. Its goal is universal access to images and art information around the world.
The core program of the Leadership Institute for Museum Management is a three-week seminar held each summer at the University of California at Berkeley. The goal: "to help museum professionals develop the skills they need to lead their museums into the next century."