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Getty Conservation Institute Announces Launch of New Lecture Season

Conservation Matters: Lectures at the Getty to Examine
a Broad Range of Conservation Issues from Around the World

September 26, 2003

Los Angeles—The Getty Conservation Institute's (GCI) free public lecture series, Conservation Matters: Lectures at the Getty, returns this fall with six new talks beginning October 16, 2003, and continuing through May 2004. The GCI series brings together expert speakers from around the world to address a wide range of current conservation topics covering art, architecture, and other historical areas, presenting a unique cross-section of the field. 

 The first lecture of the season looks at the conservation and installation of the historic retablo, or altarpiece, of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles—originally dedicated in the late 17th century in Ezcaray, Spain.  Talks with a contemporary focus include a look at modern paints used by some of the most influential artists of the 1950s and '60s, including David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol; and a discussion of the treatment of the magnificent Rothko chapel paintings in Houston.  A detailed schedule of the lectures is included below. 

Speakers include John Griswold, senior conservator and principal, Griswold Conservation Associates; Thomas Learner, senior conservation scientist at Tate; Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, director of conservation, Whitney Museum of Art and founding director, Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums; Sir Neil Cossons, chairman, English Heritage; Ada Louise Huxtable, architectural historian and critic; and Ismaïl Serageldin, director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria), Alexandria, Egypt.

 Conservation Matters: Lectures at the Getty is the Getty Conservation Institute's signature public lecture series.  This ongoing program, designed to educate the general public and conservation professionals, is an integral part of the GCI’s commitment to the community.  A variety of other activities and public programs encourage awareness of the work of the GCI and larger conservation issues. Additional resources and programs include the GCI Information Center, the AATA Online: Abstracts of International Conservation Literature database, a professional residency program, graduate conservation internships, and variety of publications. All lectures are free of charge and take place in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. Event reservations are required and may be obtained by calling 310-440-7300 or visiting the Getty Web site at


The Retablo for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

John Griswold, principal, Griswold Conservation Associates, LLC, will provide an overview of the history of the retablo, or altarpiece—from its dedication in the late 17th century in Ezcaray, Spain, to its current display in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. He will discuss the analysis of the retablo's paint and gilding layers, the yearlong process of conserving the work, and the complex efforts required to install the retablo in the cathedral's ambulatory.
Thursday, October 16, 2003, 7 p.m.

The Impact of Modern Paints
Thomas Learner, senior conservation scientist at Tate, will discuss the issues surrounding the conservation of modern paint materials, which have been available to artists since the 1950s. He will also examine some of the reasons why many influential artists of the 1960s from Britain and America—including David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol—utilized these modern paints.
Thursday, November 20, 2003, 7 p.m.

Exceeding all Preconceptions: Twenty-One Years with the Rothko Chapel Paintings
Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, director of conservation, Whitney Museum of Art, and founding director, Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, will discuss the unusual problems that plagued the black surfaces of Rothko's paintings, and how the treatment of that condition, over 21 years, has informed our understanding of the artist's process and intention.
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 7 p.m.

Building Communities through Heritage
Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, reviews current trends and thinking on communities, heritage, and conservation, and explores some of the new options for the future.  At times, conservation advocates have been accused of a narrow perspective—at worst, selfish; at best, patronizing.  Recent work in England, part of a wide-ranging review of protection and management of the historic environment, demonstrates that support for heritage is widespread and that it is increasingly seen as a key to creating sustainable communities.
Thursday, February 19, 2004, 7 p.m.

The Preservation Follies: Inventing the Near and Distant Past
Ada Louise Huxtable, architectural historian, critic, and Pulitzer Prize winner, expands on themes explored in her book, The Unreal America: Architecture and Illusion.  Reservations available March 25.
Thursday, April 15, 2004, 7 p.m.

Lecture by Ismaïl Serageldin, director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Ismaïl Serageldin, director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) in Alexandria, Egypt discusses both the ancient and the new libraries.  The new Biblioteca Alexandrina is an integrated, modern cultural complex that includes several libraries, museums, exhibition areas, educational centers, and an international conference center.
Thursday, May 13, 2004, 7 p.m.

Additional information and resources are available at

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts-broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field. In all its endeavors, the GCI focuses on the creation and delivery of knowledge that will benefit the professionals and organizations responsible for the conservation of the world's cultural heritage. To learn more, subscribe to the GCI's E-Bulletin by visiting

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.