Mazarin Chest, detail of interior lid
Architectural Conservation Grants
From 1988–2008, the Foundation awarded Architectural Conservation Grants for the preservation of some of the world's most significant historic buildings. The Foundation's grants promoted best practices in the field and complemented the work of the Getty Conservation Institute. The emphasis with these grants was on planning, particularly the extremely important, yet often overlooked, preliminary historic research, materials analysis, and documentation needed to create sound conservation plans that could then guide future work. Getty grants also supported conservation treatment of select monuments. In addition, grant-funded projects often incorporated training opportunities to increase the impact of a given project. Below are three key examples.

From 2000-2009, a series of three grants from the Foundation supported the conservation of the late 16th century Scala Santa, a Vatican extra-territorial property in the Lateran complex in Rome that houses the ancient marble staircase by tradition held to be the steps Christ ascended to receive his judgment by Pontius Pilate. The first two Getty grants were directed towards the conservation of a fresco cycle within the building by influential Flemish artist Paul Bril in the San Silvestro Chapel. Not only did the treatment reveal the original paintings in astonishing brilliance, the project greatly enhanced existing knowledge of Bril’s work and produced a model conservation documentation method. A final grant supported the publication of these results. Using the Getty grants as leverage, the Patrons of the Arts for the Vatican Museums secured in 2013 the $3 million needed to complete the full conservation of the remaining Scala Santa complex over the next five years. This will allow for the continued study and use of the site by the more than 2 million people who visit it each year.

The Villa Jeanneret-Perret (1912), or La Maison Blanche, in Switzerland was Le Corbusier's first independent architectural project. This important early residence reflects Le Corbusier's interest in structural rationalism that would characterize his later career, yet it had suffered from years of neglect. Following the creation of a comprehensive conservation plan by a team of historians, architects, engineers, and conservators, Getty funds helped restore the house to its original state.

Located in northwest India, the Nagaur-Ahhichatragarh fort in Rajasthan, Jodhpur is one of the finest examples of Rajput-Mughal architecture. Dating primarily from the 16th–18th centuries, this fortified complex of palaces, elaborate gardens, temples and a mosque had fallen into ruin. With the help of a series of Getty grants, the Mehrangarh Museum Trust is overseeing the multi-year conservation of the fort, using both traditional building methods and modern scientific techniques. Getty funds also enabled students and faculty from the Courtauld Institute in London to participate in the conservation of the wall paintings at the fort. In 2002 the project was recognized with a UNESCO Award for Excellence in Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Museum Conservation Grants
From 1988–2008, our Museum Conservation Grants supported conservation research and treatment of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts of international significance. Like our architectural grants, the emphasis was on supporting best practices, and on interdisciplinary collaborations between conservators and art historians that could yield new insights and methodologies to benefit both fields. Preference was given to model projects, and those with training components that could greatly extend the impact of a given project beyond the host institution.

A key example is the Victoria and Albert Museum's ground breaking preservation of the Mazarin Chest, one of the finest examples of seventeenth-century Japanese export lacquer. The chest had suffered from centuries of exposure to light and humidity, and a Getty grant allowed a team of Japanese and British conservators to develop an innovative treatment that integrated traditional Japanese methods with modern Western conservation practices. The approach holds great promise for the treatment of similar objects and is being widely disseminated to the field. The project was also featured in an exhibition at the Getty Museum, Tales in Sprinkled Gold.

Top image: Mazarin Chest, detail of the interior lid, artist unknown, ca. 1640. Photo: Victoria & Albert Museum/V&A Images.