Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Research Institute

New Online: The Ernest A. Long Outdoor Mural Image Archive

A new image archive of L.A. murals has just been made available online.

As a Multicultural Undergraduate Intern working at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) this summer, I worked with colleagues in Field Projects and the Information Center on the project to make the Ernest A. Long Outdoor Mural Image Archive accessible to scholars and the interested public.

The archive consists of images of public murals, mostly in Los Angeles, but also extending to Northern California, down to San Diego, and even as far away as Santa Fe, New Mexico, documented by mural enthusiast Ernest A. Long between 1973 and 1983.

Ghosts of the Barrio mural by Wayne Healy / photographed circa 1970-1974

Ghosts of the Barrio by Wayne Healy. Photographed ca. 1970-74. Located at Ramona Gardens in Los Angeles, CA. Ernest A. Long Outdoor Mural Image Archive, J. Paul Getty Trust. © Ernest A. Long III Trust and Wayne Healy

Long, a Los Angeles attorney with an enduring interest in the arts, began taking extended walks and in the process discovered a new hobby—photographing the murals that were just beginning to appear on empty walls across the city. The mural movement of Los Angeles was in its infancy in the early 1970s, with artists and communities joining forces to beautify their neighborhoods and create a sense of civic pride.

Over two decades, Long managed to capture more than 500 images of mural art being showcased in the streets. In 2007, he donated digital copies of his images to the Getty Conservation Institute for the purpose of supporting the Institute’s research into mural painting conservation.  More recently, Long granted permission to the Institute to make the images available to the public for viewing at the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute and online.

Consulting with artist Judithe Hernandez and Joe Rodriguez of Mechicano Arts Center.

Consulting with artist Judithe Hernandez and Joe Rodriguez of Mechicano Arts Center.

During my two months at the Conservation Institute, I conducted extensive research on the mural movement in Los Angeles, made contact with scores of artists from all over L.A. and across the country, and obtained permission from artists in the archive to make these images available to the public free of charge. I even helped organize a day-long tour to visit murals in East L.A., downtown, and mid-city.

GCI staff enjoying a tour of St. Elmo Village with co-creator and director Roderick Sykes (center).

Conservation Institute staff enjoying a tour of St. Elmo Village with co-creator and director Roderick Sykes (center).

The artists’ overwhelming positive response to this project was astonishing and reinforced the notion of the value of the collection. At this point, we’ve identified and received permission from nearly half the artists in the archive, and we’re waiting to hear from and locate other artists who can provide information about their work.

Strother Martin Monument mural by Kent Twitchell, 1971 / photographed in 1973

Strother Martin Monument by Kent Twitchell (1971). Photographed in 1973. Located at Fountain Ave. and N. Kingsley Dr. in Los Angeles, CA. Ernest A. Long Outdoor Mural Image Archive, J. Paul Getty Trust. © Ernest A. Long III Trust and Kent Twitchell

This project was a huge undertaking, and it couldn’t have been possible without the contribution of the artists represented in the collection, or the team of great people I’ve come to know at the Getty.

The Ernest A. Long collection will serve as a public resource for documentation of the Los Angeles mural movement. I also hope it will offer an interesting glimpse into an important aspect of L.A.’s cultural history through the perspective of an individual who loved art and just needed to take a walk.

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  1. James Kelly
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink


  2. Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    This is brilliant, you should also look out for the work of the London Mural Preservation Society:

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  • […] shared the link to this archive of Los Angeles mural photography from Ernest A. Long. There is an introductory article on the Getty education blog and the collection contains 200 images, all taken between 1973 and 1883. Like London it seems that […]

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      The Queen Who Wasn’t

      Louis XIV clandestinely wed his mistress, Madame de Maintenon, at Versailles on October 9 or 10, 1683. The marriage was much gossiped about but never openly acknowledged. She was never queen.

      Madame de Maintenon had been the {judgy} governess to Louis XIV’s children by his previous mistress, Madame de Montespan. Louis gave these children moneyed titles—such as the comte de Toulouse, who ordered the tapestries shown here for his residence outside Paris.

      Louis’s secret marriage ushered in a period of religious fervor, in sharp contrast to the light-hearted character of his early reign. Madame de Maintenon was known for her Catholic piety, and founded a school for the education of impoverished noble girls at Saint-Cyr in 1686 that stayed in operation until 1793. This engraving of the Virgin and Child was dedicated to her by the king.

      Virgin and Child, late 1600s, Jean-Louis Roullet after Pierre Mignard; Johann Ulrich Stapf, engraver. The Getty Research Institute. Tapestries from the Emperor of China series. The J. Paul Getty Museum


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