Head, Public Programs & Communications

Kristin Kelly

Kris Kelly's childhood was spent in the U.S. Midwest and East Coast. Born in Illinois, she moved with her family to Connecticut at age five and then to Minnesota five years later. Four years after this, it was back to the East Coast, this time to Washington, D.C. There Kris attended a Quaker high school where theater and politics were major extracurricular interests. Her activities ran the gamut from Vietnam peace rallies to productions of Oklahoma and Brigadoon.

Kris began Bryn Mawr College planning to be an English teacher, but after an art history class, her interest shifted. Fascinated by the meanings and significance of art objects, as well as by their aesthetic qualities, she majored in art history, with studies that included archaeology. Following graduation, she entered graduate school at Columbia University to study early Christian and Byzantine art. In 1978 she began dissertation research in Rome, supported partly by a fellowship from the American Association of University Women.

She returned to New York in 1980 to attend a summer graduate program in business administration at New York University, having realized that she was more interested in management than in academe. While she continued her Ph.D. studies—receiving her doctorate in art history and archaeology in 1986—she spent the 1980s working in line management and human resource positions for several large retail companies in California. It was a rich experience in terms of people and situations, but over time she missed the connection to art and history.

In 1990 she was hired as the Getty Museum's manager of personnel and administrative services. Over the next nine years, her job expanded and she became the Museum's manager of administration. At the same time, a fascination with the art and cultures of Southeast Asia—sparked by a 1993 trip to Vietnam—led her to write a book entitled The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia, published in 2001.

In 1999 she joined the GCI as a senior project manager, later becoming head of Public Programs & Communications. Kris oversees GCI publications, the Conservation Guest Scholar and GCI Internship programs, the public lecture series, Conservation, and conservation content on getty.edu. She enjoys her regular contact with conservation professionals and enjoys having the chance to contribute to the field, in part by bringing issues of conservation to a broader audience. In her spare time, she heads as frequently as possible to Southeast Asia, conducting research on the region's arts, cultures, and museums for possible future personal projects.