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New Getty Grants Promote Innovative Collaborations between Museums and Universities

August 7, 1998

Los Angeles, CA-The Getty Grant Program just announced the first recipients of grants to plan and research museum exhibitions through its Senior Research Grants, which support team research in art history and the humanities. The new grants are designed to promote innovative collaborations between scholars at universities and museums. Three Getty Senior Research Grants have been awarded to The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, England; and the University of California. The grants, totaling nearly $600,000, will foster unique partnerships between university-based scholars and museum professionals. This year will mark the first time that Getty Senior Research Grants have been given specifically to fund the planning and research phases of forthcoming museum exhibitions.

"Museum exhibition planning is an extremely useful vehicle for promoting collaboration between scholars based in universities and museums," says Deborah Marrow, Director of the Getty Grant Program. "It allows for the combination of different types of expertise and advances the understanding of particular subjects in new ways."

The exhibitions supported by the grants are all scheduled to open at the beginning of the next century. Topics include in-depth looks at the early career in Germany of the seminal modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (exhibition at MoMA); the artistic transformation of late medieval England (exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum); and the role material objects play in the production of knowledge through an examination of the collections of the nine campuses of the University of California (exhibition venues to be determined.)

"Funding for the thoughtful research required to plan a successful exhibition is scarce. That is why it is so important to encourage this kind of collaboration," notes Marrow.

The Museum of Modern Art's Mies in Berlin exhibition, scheduled to open in the year 2000, brings together MoMA curators with architectural historians from the United States, Canada, and Germany. These scholars will reexamine the German phase of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's architectural career, which began in 1905 and ended when he left Berlin for Chicago in 1938, with particular emphasis on the lesser known projects. A unique aspect of the project is its teaching component, which involves a two-year collaboration between the graduate art history program at Columbia University and the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. Project team members will serve as guest lecturers, and graduate students from various universities will have the opportunity to work and travel with the team.

Barry Bergdoll, a specialist in 19th- and 20th-century architecture at Columbia University, explains, "The diversity and complexity of Mies' built and unbuilt work from the 1910s, '20s, and '30s-too often edited to conform to pre-scripted modernist scenarios-is being explored. The research will take place both in the archives and in situ, with many of the buildings only accessible since reunification of Germany."

The second grant, for the collaborative exhibition The Age of Ambition: The Transformation of Medieval England, 1400-1538 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, links curators from the V&A, the British Library, and the National Gallery with scholars from the universities of York, London, Leicester, and Cambridge to plumb the art and architectural history of medieval England. Led by outstanding authorities in the field, the exhibition, scheduled to open in 2002, "will challenge the notion created in novels, dramas, and films that the period was a provincial interlude between the glorious Gothic achievements of the 13th and 14th centuries, and the later 16th-century emergence of new models of artistic production in the Italian Renaissance," notes Paul Williamson, Chief Curator of the V&A sculpture department.

The third grant will support the scholarship around two exhibitions under the general title Microcosm: Objects of Knowledge, scheduled for 2001. The project will be led by two art historians from UC Santa Barbara and will involve museum and university scholars from various disciplines. During a six-month residency at the University of California Humanities Research Institute in Irvine, the team will investigate the practice of collecting as seen in the collections of the nine campuses of the UC system, exploring models that range from sixteenth-century curiosity cabinets to today's Internet.

"The Getty has enabled us to bring together a specialized team of scholars and artists from around the world," explain project co-leaders Mark Meadow and Bruce Robertson, Professors of the History of Art at UC Santa Barbara. "The resulting exhibitions and conference will highlight the role of objects in all of our disciplines at a critical moment."

The Getty Grant Program began funding Senior Research Grants for team projects in 1988. Since then, more than 35 projects involving 132 scholars have received over $4.5 million in support. The grants encourage art historians to work collaboratively, both within their fields and with scholars in other branches of the humanities. This creative and academic exchange influences not only the work of individual scholars, but also their respective disciplines. Past examples of these grants include the interdisciplinary study of the classic Mayan murals of Bonampak in Chiapas, Mexico; the investigation of architecture and urbanism under the French protectorate in Rabat, Morocco; and the examination of audiences of medieval art by three University of Chicago scholars.

Grantees are chosen through open competitions administered by the Getty Grant Program. Applications are reviewed by a standing international advisory committee. The 1999 Senior Research Grant application deadline is November 1, 1998. Scholars from abroad are welcome to apply. Information and applications are available from the Getty Grant Program, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 800, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1685. Potential applicants can also visit the Grant Program's Web site at

For further press information, contact:
Libby Rogers
Getty Public Affairs
Telephone: (310) 440-7360
Fax: (310) 440-7722

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