From its inception, the Getty Conservation Institute has been committed to education and training in the conservation of objects and collections, as well as archaeological sites, monuments, and structures.

The GCI established a Training Program in 1985 and over the next decade offered a variety of courses and programs for conservation professionals. Early initiatives focused on the development of specific courses for conservators in specialized areas that were inadequately served by existing institutions or emerging as new areas of significance to the field. Soon courses related to preventive conservation and management of collections were also offered. Conservation professionals affiliated with museums, historic houses, regional conservation centers, libraries and archives, educational institutions—as well as those in private practice—comprised the audience for the early training activities.

The courses, workshops, and seminars offered during this period focused on the documentation, identification, analysis, and treatment of particular types of objects or classes of materials representing the fine arts, as well as historical, archaeological, ethnographic, library, and archival collections. The emphasis was on providing the "bench" conservator with information and skills of a practical nature. At this time, the GCI also offered the first of what became a series of courses that dealt with various aspects of environmental management for collections.

Later activities of the Training Program fell into one of three main categories: professional training (programs considered comprehensive by virtue of their duration and the scope of their curricula); specialized training (short-term courses on particular topics); and infrastructure development (support of conservation training in general and creation of didactic materials). The care and protection of museum collections through preventive conservation became a priority, as did augmenting the number and quality of training opportunities in developing countries. The program also concentrated on training in the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic objects and archaeological sites and on site management. In addition, appropriate training components have always been included in the field projects of the GCI.

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