Not long after the establishment of its Training Program in the mid-1980s, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) offered a series of courses on the cleaning of paintings. A 1987 workshop on the care and treatment of paintings using new materials and methods for cleaning focused on the removal of varnishes and cleaning methods using enzymes, soaps, and gels. Later courses provided an overview of new materials and techniques that could be used to augment traditional approaches to cleaning paintings. A 1989 course familiarized participants with procedures utilizing cross-sections, fluorescent dyes, selective filters, and polarizing microscopes for the identification of materials found in easel paintings. The course also included a demonstration of the use of enzymes, soaps, and gels to remove varnishes and clean paintings.

The GCI maintained a non-training activity in this area with its Gels Cleaning Research project. The objective of this research was to answer important questions regarding the use of solvent-based gels as cleaning systems for surfaces.