By Miguel Angel Corzo

Conservation image

Over the last 10 years, the Getty Conservation Institute has achieved a significant place among organizations around the world that deal with the conservation and preservation of cultural heritage. Although a relative newcomer to conservation, the GCI has accomplished much in a short period of time, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of its staff and its focus on many important issues.

With the move to the Getty Center and the coming of a new century, the time seemed ripe for reevaluating the Institute's role in a world where respect for diverse cultural values is receiving greater attention, and the increasing threats to cultural heritage—mass tourism, unchecked development, war and vandalism, and diminishing resources for culture—are more clearly recognized.

Given this environment, a new vision for the Institute was necessary, one that could guide it over the next five years into the new millennium while maintaining the values dear to the organization as it has evolved over the years.

Late in 1995 the GCI's executive staff embarked on a comprehensive analysis of the challenges ahead. We needed a plan to maintain focus, to redefine conservation in its broader context, and to allow for broad participation of Institute staff. We wanted to integrate our own areas of expertise more fully and become stronger than the sum of our parts, building on one another's strengths, breaking down boundaries, and reorganizing ourselves in accordance with new ways of thinking.

Furthermore, as an information organization, a resource organization, and a research organization, we wanted to encourage others to work with us so that together we may increase awareness of the benefits of conservation for society at large.

We were aware that we needed to focus on what was important—as opposed to what was novel—to work through the conflict but not be afraid of it, to communicate more effectively with the world beyond the Institute, and to formulate new ways to talk about conservation.

We needed to be open and honest about our hopes and ideas and build trust and friendship with others.

To achieve these ends, the Institute's executive staff spent many hours in discussion over the course of several months, patiently guided in our sessions by Jean-Marie Bonthous, a consultant who has worked with large organizations around the world. The executive staff also benefited tremendously from discussions with staff members throughout the Institute.

The result is our five-year strategic plan, composed of values, a core mission, goals, strategies, and tactics. Encompassing time lines and responsibilities, it is a conceptual road map for the Institute's future.

Under the plan, the Institute embraces the following values:

  • Society's role in conservation decisions
  • Respect for diverse cultural values
  • Research
  • Education
  • Exploration
  • Sustainable solutions
  • Communication
  • Inclusiveness
  • Continuous learning and renewal

The core mission of the Institute is now laid out in a single sentence: "The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to further the appreciation and preservation of the world's cultural heritage for the enrichment and use of present and future generations."

The Institute includes within its main audiences conservation professionals, heritage owners and managers, media and opinion leaders, organizations of the professional world, government decision makers, policy-making bodies, and the general public.

Contained within the GCI's strategic plan are five goals that serve as guideposts for the Institute's efforts in the coming years. These include a dedication to the exploration and generation of new ideas, information, knowledge, and applications in the field of conservation; an emphasis on research in the conservation of the cultural heritage; public recognition of the importance of cultural heritage and the needs and opportunities for its protection; excellence in education and in the exchange and dissemination of relevant information and knowledge; and staff excellence. Each of these goals includes a series of strategies designed to translate the goals into reality. These strategies, in turn, are supported by specific, supportive tactics.

While the strategic plan in its totality is not cast in stone, we intend to abide by the five goals we have set forth. We may review the strategies from time to time and adapt the tactics as necessary. Implementation of the new plan will require patience, effort, and dedication. Even as we develop new approaches to working with one another and with our partners throughout the world, we will strive to preserve what is good in the GCI's culture.

Ultimately everything we do is in the service of preserving our shared cultural heritage. It is our collective memory. The Institute is committed to ensuring that it remain here for our present use and enjoyment—and for the enlightenment of future generations.

Miguel Angel Corzo is the Director of the Getty Conservation Institute.