Beth received her PhD from Cornell University and began her career at the Getty Museum in 1996. During her tenure, she has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions, including the 2010 exhibition Imagining the Past in France, 12501500, and the 2019 exhibition Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World. She specializes in the study of manuscript illumination in northern Europe from the Gothic period through the Renaissance. She has published on French vernacular manuscripts, especially history and romance, as well as the role of Flemish devotional and secular illumination at the Burgundian court. Her recent research centers on the depiction of animals in bestiaries and other illuminated manuscripts.
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
The Department of Manuscripts was established in 1983 with the acquisition of one of the finest private collections in the world, assembled by Peter and Irene Ludwig of Aachen, Germany. Since then, the Museum has built an expansive and balanced representation of the art form, with holdings totaling over 200 complete books and individual leaves that span the ninth to sixteenth centuries. Featuring exceptional European illuminations—including Ottonian, Romanesque, Gothic, International Style, and Renaissance examples—the collection also contains a small but important group of Byzantine, Armenian, and Ethiopian objects.
Illuminated manuscripts are sensitive to light and are displayed for short periods of time in rotating exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection at the Getty Center. The Getty Museum also presents large-scale international loan exhibitions of manuscripts as a part of their special exhibitions program.
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Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art
Early medieval legends tell us that the youngest of the three kings who paid homage to the newborn Christ Child in Bethlehem was from Africa. But it would be nearly one thousand years before artists began representing Balthazar as a Black African. The online exhibit provides a close look at 15th-century images of the African king against the backdrop of Afro-European contact, which included trade and diplomacy as well as the painful legacies of enslavement.
Power, Justice, and Tyranny in the Middle Ages
In the medieval period, as throughout our world today, the use and abuse of power was a subject of intense discussion, inspiring works of art that expose the divide between political ideals and realities. The works of art in this exhibition reveal the intersections between power, justice, and tyranny and illustrate the constant struggle between noble aspirations and base human instincts.
Laudario of Sant’Agnese
In the 1340s, families in Florence, Italy sang with musical accompaniment from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese. This luxury manuscript featured decoration by prominent early Renaissance artists.
Fantastic Beasts of the Middle Ages
The bestiary was one of the most important sources on animals from the Middle Ages, serving as a kind of medieval encyclopedia that placed each creature within a Christian framework and conception of creation.
The Art of Three Faiths: Torah, Bible, Qur'an
The sacred scriptures of Jews, Christians, and Muslims are among the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. This exhibition presents a remarkable example from each faith tradition.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
The cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food formed the framework for daily labor and leisure in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is not surprising to find activities centered around this subject abounding in the pages of manuscripts.
Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages
During the medieval period, hope mingled with fear concerning death and the afterlife, providing stirring subjects for manuscript illumination.
An illuminated manuscript is a book written and decorated completely by hand. Illuminated manuscripts were among the most precious objects produced in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, primarily in monasteries and courts. Society's rulers—emperors, kings, dukes, cardinals, and bishops— commissioned the most splendid manuscripts.Watch more videos about the Collection
Senior Curator / Department Head
Senior Curator / Department Head
STUDY ROOMAll illuminations represented in the Getty’s Manuscripts collection (over 7,000 images) are available online for free download through the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Admission to the Manuscripts Department Study Room is by application and appointment only.
Access to the original manuscripts is limited due to their rarity and the special handling requirements for this fragile material. We consider applications to study manuscripts in the collection only from qualified researchers with a demonstrated need for primary source materials. Applications require a letter of recommendation from a professor or professional contact in the field. Researchers should apply far in advance of a possible appointment to allow time for curators to review your application.
All interested parties may apply for an appointment in the Manuscripts Study Room to access microfilms and research files about the collection.
Please review the following Procedures for Manuscripts Access and Handling Guide before submitting an application.
To request an application, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.