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Getty Oral History Program interviews, overseen/conducted by Martin Meeker, University of California, Berkeley, 2015-2018

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J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Oral History Program Interviews Overseen/Conducted by Martin Meeker, University of California, Berkeley, 2015-ongoing

The Getty Oral History Program, 2015-ongoing

The J. Paul Getty Trust has had a number of internal oral history initiatives throughout its brief history. The projects have fallen into rough categories of Interviews Regarding the Study of Art History (1986, 1988, 1990), Interviews with Art Historians (1991-2002) and Interviews of Significant Getty Trustees and Staff, organized by historical period and institutional role of interviewee (1999-2010). The interviewers of the first two categories were Richard Candida-Smith and, to a lesser extent, Claire Lyons, while the interviewer of the third category was Eric Abrahamson.

The Getty is a young institution of major consequence in its field, perceived by many to be among the leaders - and sometimes being the leader - in specific aspects of its field's work. Though informative, none of the earlier initiatives have fully expressed the Getty's exceptional nature or addressed the transformative quality of its leadership. Additionally, many of the earlier interviews are closed for the life of the participant and therefore currently unavailable for research. The new 2015-ongoing initiative, proposed by President and CEO James Cuno, is intended to fill these gaps, producing publicly accessible interviews that discuss the Getty's extraordinary role in the world. Being a young institution, the Getty has access to all but the very first generation of its predecessors and colleagues, making this a timely project.

In this Getty Oral History Project, oral histories will fall into two broad categories. The existing category "Interviews of Significant Getty Trustees and Staff'' will be continued, commencing with the departure of former President and CEO Barry Munitz in 2006, and using a thematic approach, e.g., "the resolution of the governance crisis in 2006-2007 (Attorney General investigation, Los Angeles (LA) Times articles, etc.)," "the negotiations with Italy and Greece over the return of antiquities," "the hiring of Jim Wood as President/CEO," "the response to the financial crisis," "Jim Wood's tenure as President/CEO," "the development of the individual Programs since 2006," and "reflections of the Trustees upon their departure," etc. In addition, the existing categories "Interviews Regarding the Study of Art History" and "Interviews with Art Historians" will be combined and expanded to include conservators, conservation scientists, relevant arts philanthropists, and art museum directors and curators. The purpose of this category is to capture the current state of the field within which the Getty works and provide a context for understanding the developing role of the Getty within it.

The Getty plans to work with Oral History Center (OHC) of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct thirty interviews annually, ten from Getty Staff and Trustees and twenty from leaders in its field, beginning with three interviews as a pilot project to assess quality and direction. Within the Getty, internal oversight of the project vests with a team comprised of the Getty's four Program Directors and Trust President, with the VP/COO/CFO, VP/General Counsel, VP Communications, and VP Development providing advice, as necessary.




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