Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Trust

New Getty Mission Statement Foregrounds Critical Thinking, Collaboration

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Getty Center, which brought the Getty’s four programs together in a single place for the first time, we took the occasion to refocus the mission statement of the Getty Trust and those of the Getty programs—the Conservation Institute, Foundation, Museum, and Research Institute.

Together these mission statements emphasize our commitment to serving Los Angeles and the world, to building and sharing our collections with both the broadest possible public and specialized professional and scholarly communities, and to discovering and disseminating new knowledge on multiple platforms in print and online.

The Trust’s new mission statement reads as follows:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to critical thinking in the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy. Through the collective and individual work of its constituent Programs—the Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Getty Research Institute—it pursues its mission in Los Angeles and throughout the world, serving both the general interested public and a wide range of professional communities with the conviction that a greater and more profound sensitivity to and knowledge of the visual arts and their many histories is crucial to the promotion of a vital and civil society.

You will see that up front we emphasize critical thinking. Previously we had stressed critical seeing. But the more we thought about it, seeing seemed too passive: it’s what we do when simply opening our eyes. Of course, it may become looking, as in looking for something or someone. But that is just a more focused way of seeing. It uses the mind only to the extent that we recognize someone or something we were looking for.

Critical thinking is something altogether different. It uses the mind to examine and make sense of something. And thus it underpins everything we do at the Getty, whether in the acquisition and analysis of works of art, the investigation of our discipline’s literary sources, the selection of scholars, the examination of artistic materials and the environmental conditions affecting art and architecture, the training of conservators, the analysis of project partners, the consideration of new grant programs and grantees, or the analysis of administrative, legal, financial, communication, and investment options. Everything we do and every decision we make in pursuit of our mission involves and requires critical thinking.

Facets of the Getty: fostering curiosity and enjoyment, presenting and interpreting art, creating and sharing knowledge, advancing conservation practice.

Facets of the Getty: enjoyment, presentation, interpretation, conservation.

I think these mission statements capture the true essence of the Getty: a popular and specialized resource for the presentation, preservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy at home and around the world. No other art institution is quite like the Getty. And it is incumbent upon us to deploy our human and material resources to the benefit of our diverse public and to the advancement of our domain.

__________

For reference, here is the previous Getty Trust mission statement, adopted in 2007:

One of the largest supporters of arts in the world, the J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution that focuses on the visual arts in all their dimensions. The Getty serves both the general public and a wide range of professional communities in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through the work of the four Getty programs—the Museum, Research Institute, Conservation Institute, and Foundation—the Getty aims to further knowledge and nurture critical seeing through the growth and presentation of its collections and by advancing the understanding and preservation of the world’s artistic heritage. The Getty pursues this mission with the conviction that cultural awareness, creativity, and aesthetic enjoyment are essential to a vital and civil society.

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      All Hail Tiberius, Least Media-Savvy of the Roman Emperors

      Tiberius was proclaimed Roman emperor on September 17 in AD 14, exactly 2,000 years ago.

      He was also a bit idiosyncratic. “He was the least media-savvy emperor you could imagine,” says curator David Saunders, who has been in charge of this bronze portrait of Tiberius which leaves us on September 22. He point to this description found in the writings of Cassius Dio:

      Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed…In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course, far more and greater successes were attained.

      Moreover, David tells us, “Tiberius’s accession itself was a farrago: Tiberius sort-of feigning reluctance, the Senate bullying him, he being all, ‘Well, if-I-have-to,’ and in the end—according to Suetonius—saying he’ll do it as long as he can retire.”

      Suetonius is full of great, albeit spurious, anecdotes about poor old Tiberius, David reports. “When someone addressed him as ‘My Lord,’ it is said, Tiberius gave warning that no such insult should ever again be thrown at him.”

      Happy accession, My Lord!

      Portrait Head of Tiberius (“The Lansdowne Tiberius”), early 1st century A.D., Roman. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro. Currently on view at the Getty Villa following conservation and study.

      09/17/14

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