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Getty Conservation Institute Launches Major Online Conservation Resource

August 27, 2002

LOS ANGELES—The Getty Conservation Institute, in association with the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC), is bringing the comprehensive reference series Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) to the World Wide Web as a free service to the international conservation community. AATA Online: Abstracts of International Conservation Literature ( will offer all 36 volumes of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts and its predecessor, IIC Abstracts, published between 1955 and the present.

For decades, AATA has been a major tool for the conservation field; conservators have relied upon the diverse and specialized summaries of conservation literature contained within its volumes to locate important information for research and practice. Since 1983, AATA has been published semiannually by the Getty Conservation Institute in association with the IIC.

AATA Online will be formally introduced on September 4, 2002, at the IIC 19th International Congress in Baltimore, Maryland, and on September 24, 2002, at the International Council of Museums-Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) 13th Triennial Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Abstracts from the 20 AATA special supplements and almost 1,400 abstracts published between 1932 and 1955 by the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. will be added to the new site. Before the end of 2002, more than 100,000 abstracts related to the preservation and conservation of material cultural heritage will be accessible through AATA Online. The site was initially launched in Miami on June 8, 2002, at the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) annual meeting. Since that time, it has been undergoing fine-tuning in preparation for its fall introduction.

“The Getty Conservation Institute initiated this project in response to the needs of the international conservation profession,” said Timothy P. Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute. “Bringing AATA online will make it easier to access, search, and use. We believe that the data will have even greater value and application in its new format, thus enhancing its contribution to the intellectual capital of the fields of conservation and preservation.”

AATA has long been recognized for the quality of its abstracts, which are submitted by volunteer abstractors and peer reviewed by experts in the conservation community who serve as editors, further ensuring the material’s quality and relevance. As the field expanded and generated an ever-increasing body of information, the efficacy of presenting the data through Web technology became apparent.

AATA remains a collaborative, participatory effort with a continuing mission to be ‘by the field, for the field,’” said David Bomford, secretary-general of the IIC. “This rich online resource will foster professional development and involvement because it will enable knowledge to be shared in a more timely manner and in a free format with broad, international distribution.”

In developing the project, the Getty Conservation Institute spent a great deal of time listening to the concerns of the field, convening focus groups, evaluating available technology, and conducting extensive user testing. The knowledge gained from these activities guided the final development of AATA Online. The site will run on recent versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape on both PC and Mac platforms. 

Another significant change for researchers occurred in May 2002, when BCIN, a database managed by the Canadian Heritage Information Network on behalf of the Conservation Information Network (CIN)—which brings together bibliographic holdings and abstracts produced by several of the world’s major conservation centers—completed its redesigned Web interface and became a free service with its own Web site ( Together with the BCIN database, AATA Online provides professionals with access to thousands of abstracts and bibliographic records related to conservation and management of material cultural heritage.

The launch of AATA Online is part of the ongoing process of expanding AATA’s capacity and reach. New abstracts will be added regularly and the site will continue to be refined in response to user comments. Most importantly, the Getty Conservation Institute will work to expand the coverage of literature in AATA Online. “In addition to broadening coverage and adding subject editors to represent newer areas of conservation practice, the goal is to extend the network of abstractors who identify and abstract literature, and to engage diverse institutions, professional associations, and publishers in contributing abstracts,” said Luke Gilliland-Swetland, head of information resources, the Getty Conservation Institute. “With the collective efforts of the field, AATA should continue to be an important information resource, supporting both research and practice in all areas of conservation.”

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The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to advance conservation and to enhance and encourage the preservation and understanding of the visual arts in all of their dimensions—objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, 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 Institute is committed to addressing unanswered questions and promoting the highest possible standards of conservation practice.

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.

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