On December 15, 1998, the J. Paul Getty Trust announced the appointment of Timothy P. Whalen as director of the Getty Conservation Institute. Whalen, a Southern California native, has been in charge of conservation grant-making activities for the Getty Grant Program since 1991 and has been with the Getty since 1981. He succeeds Miguel Angel Corzo, who resigned as GCI director at the end of November.
Prior to managing conservation grants, Whalen served for five years as assistant director of the Getty's building program office, where he supervised and coordinated early planning and programming for the Getty Center project. Before that, he was assistant director for administration with the Getty Research Institute, and earlier he worked at the Getty Museum. He holds a B.A. in art history and an M.A. in art history and museum studies from the University of Southern California. During 1994-95 he was a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he examined the role preservation issues play in urban planning and public policy debates.
During his tenure with the Grant Program, Whalen was responsible for the funding and oversight of a number of notable projects in architectural conservation and museum conservation, as well as expansion of funding activities in Los Angeles. Among the international projects was the conservation of the early Christian and late medieval mosaic cycles at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. He was also instrumental in helping the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco organize an international conference on the conservation of video works of art. A number of notable historic American residential buildings, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water and Henry Hobson Richardson's Glessner House, received conservation planning support during Whalen's administration. He was also involved in advancing the National Trust for Historic Preservation's efforts to diversify the field of historic preservation, through grants enabling preservationists from diverse communities to attend the National Trust's annual meetings.
"I am delighted that we could appoint a longstanding and trusted Getty colleague who is as well suited to this job as Tim Whalen," said Barry Munitz, president and CEO of the Getty Trust. "Tim brings extensive experience and a broad perspective on the entire field of art, architectural, and archaeological conservation. His deep knowledge of the Getty's activities and his understanding of the issues in both conservation and funding perfectly position him to lead the Getty Conservation Institute."
"I am energized by the Getty Trust's commitment to conservation and delighted to be given this chance to shepherd the Conservation Institute into the next century," said Whalen. "Given the demands of the field, there could not be a more critical time to uphold and advance the Institute's fine work in service to the conservation profession and the preservation of our collective heritage. My time in this field has consistently demonstrated that need always exceeds the resources available to save those things and places which reflect the values and aspirations of a culture or community. Still I am convinced of the potential for the Getty to contribute significantly to this effort, and I look forward to working with such a talented group of dedicated colleagues." With regard to the activities of the GCI, Whalen said that "while field projects will continue to help us answer and demonstrate solutions for unsolved conservation questions, I anticipate that training and research, particularly as it relates to movable collections and site management, will gain increased prominence in the work of the Institute."
Whalen is a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS); the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Nonprofit Management Association; the Los Angeles Conservancy; and the Southern California Association for Philanthropy. He also served as an advisory committee member to the Foundation Center and Council on Foundations' joint study of international grant making, published in 1997.
Whalen succeeds Miguel Angel Corzo, who served for eight years as director of the GCI. During Corzo's tenure, the Institute achieved a significant presence in the world through its scientific research, conferences, publications, training programs, and field projects. Under his direction, the Institute developed projects in partnerships with governments and other national institutions. Among the better-known projects were the conservation of the tomb of Nefertari in Egypt; the Buddhist grottoes in Mogao, China; the bas-reliefs of the Royal Palaces in Abomey, West Africa; and the rock art of Baja California, Mexico. Among the GCI projects developed in Los Angeles under his leadership were the conservation of the Robert Graham sculptures at the Los Angeles Coliseum; Ed Kienholz's sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the ongoing conservation of the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural América Tropical in the El Pueblo Historic Park at Olvera Street.