If you’ve ever watched a vase or picture frame shatter after an accidental bump, you can imagine how devastating an earthquake could be to an art museum. Both the Getty Center and Getty Villa are located just a few miles from the Santa Monica, Sylmar, Inglewood, and Hollywood fault lines, and just over 40 miles from the San Andreas fault. \n\nOur staff members have become experts in the field of museum earthquake safety. They’ve collaborated with cultural institutions from countries such as Greece and Italy to help protect art in earthquake zones. Other international efforts include the Getty Conservation Institute's 10-year conservation project to help stabilize earthen buildings in Peru. Here at home, we continue to improve our own seismic safety techniques; for example, after the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit the Getty Center while it was under construction, Getty engineers quickly developed improvements that influenced building codes and inspection practices across the industry. \n\nHere’s how we keep objects secure when the earth starts moving.\n\n### Hidden Seismic Retrofitting\n\nSeismic retrofitting is a process that identifies a building’s potential vulnerabilities during an earthquake and strengthens them. Engineers provide Museum and Villa staff with detailed information about the geological makeup of the surrounding area and how each building might behave during an earthquake. That information helps guide how objects are secured.\n\nFor example, the Villa’s galleries are secured with a grid of steel beams hidden behind the drywall and under the terrazzo floors. Large objects, like *Statue of a Victorious Youth*, are secured directly to the grid to keep them still during a quake.\n\n“If you look closely at the beautiful stone and terrazzo floors at the Villa, you’ll see they have grid lines and every so often there are anchor points where we can secure sculptures and pedestals,” said Susanne Gänsicke, senior conservator of antiquities conservation at the Getty Villa. ### Careful Placement\n\nArt is displayed to maximize the visitor’s ability to see it, but it’s also arranged to keep it as secure as possible. \n\nGetty employees evaluate each object on display and assess how it might react during an earthquake. Measurements and mathematical calculations help determine the object’s center of gravity, mass distribution, and what type and strength of movement could topple it.\n\nDisplay furniture—this includes pedestals, shelves, and display cases—is firmly bolted to the building, and/or weighted to keep the center of gravity low to avoid tipping.\n\n### Mechanisms Inside the Mounts Mounts are designed to be virtually invisible to a visitor’s eye. They are typically attached to the side of the object that is not visible in the gallery, and perfectly conform to the artwork’s curves and color. “We consider our most successful work to be when nobody knows we've done anything at all,” said BJ Farrar, senior mountmaker in decorative arts conservation at the Getty Museum. “So we take a holistic approach–we’re not only looking at the artwork, but also how it's going to be displayed and the furniture that's going to be displaying the artwork, so we make sure that everything is working as a system.”\n\nFragile and sometimes large objects like life-size marble sculptures (such as the Statue of Hercules) may be secured atop a special type of display pedestal that incorporates a base isolation system. Getty’s isolation system, developed and refined over the last 30 years, consists of a structural steel framework, a series of rollers and springs that are designed to diffuse the jarring movements that might topple a priceless statue.\n\nThis video shows how this feat of engineering keeps objects safe. \n\n<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IFFxSBx-P0U" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>\n \nMountmakers, conservators, and preparators work together to secure works of art so discreetly, you may never notice their hard work! But thanks to their care, the next time an earthquake hits the Los Angeles area, each work of art will have a layer of protection to minimize any bumps and bruises.