Purpose and Principles

The Collections department works to advance the conservation practice of movable heritage. Through our research, training activities, and work in the field, we aim to engage, inform, and connect practitioners responsible for public and private collections of all sizes and in all settings across cultures and geographic regions. Guided by a pragmatic and context-based approach, the Collections department develops and applies new research and technical advances to serve diverse collection typologies, institutional settings, and resource levels.

Project Design and Implementation

Collections department projects are designed to address recognized needs of conservation professionals working in the movable heritage field in thematic areas that align with the Getty Conservation Institute’s priorities, experience, and staff expertise. Projects are often multi-disciplinary, involving several integrated components. We collaborate with local, regional, and international partners to develop solutions to challenges encountered by conservation professionals, drawing from the resources available to them.

Currently, the Collections department’s work is focused on preventive conservation and collections care, modern and contemporary art, and decorated surfaces, specifically lacquer and gilded wood. Within these research areas, our staff are engaged in research, field activities designed to test new methodologies in real-world settings, education and training in the form of courses and workshops, and the creation of materials for dissemination.

Educational activities are offered in numerous formats from short workshops ranging from one day, to a week, to courses of several months duration, providing opportunities for deeper engagement with new ideas. The department increasingly uses web-based teaching and remote learning to augment classroom or field-based training and to significantly expand access to new professional audiences.

The department’s personnel include heritage professionals experienced in caring for collections in museums, archives, historic properties, and private collections, with additional background in pedagogy.

We often work in tandem with colleagues in the Science or the Buildings and Sites departments as well as with institutional partners and consultants, both within and outside the Getty. As a result, extended project teams may consist of conservators, conservation scientists, architects, engineers, and a range of scholars and educators dealing with the conservation of material culture.


Integral to the Getty Conservation Institute’s mission is the dissemination of our work to the profession, as well as sharing key information from our partners and others where possible. Our staff is committed to making our research and didactic materials available for free on our website as publications or as resources developed for courses and workshops under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA).

Collaboration with external partners is an important means of disseminating information and skills, forging institutional networks, and contributing to the development of a strong infrastructure for conservation practice internationally. Staff members also serve on a multitude of professional committees, and participate in international conferences and symposia.

Banner image: World on its Hind Legs (2017) by William Kentridge. Artwork copyright: Contact Marian Goodman Gallery, wwww.mariangoodman.com.

Last updated: February 2021