The J. Paul Getty Trust has announced it will spend $100 million over 10 years on conservation efforts around the world, with an emphasis on protecting antiquities from the threats of climate change and sectarian violence. The initiative—titled “Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past”—will work with local partner institutions in regions where it has not worked before, including Southeast Asia and Central and South America. The program will formally launch in summer of 2020, though some facets of it are already underway.
James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty Trust, said in a statement:
Cultural heritage embodies a global community united by a common need to make things of beauty and usefulness, and to compose stories and rituals about humanity’s place in the world. [...] This work must start now, before more cultural heritage is neglected, damaged, or destroyed. Much is at stake.
All four branches of the trust—the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Museum—are involved, working on initiatives ranging from exhibition and education programs to conservation and mapping efforts. One partnership involves helping fund training for Iraqi heritage specialists in emergency conservation. The Getty Museum also hopes to create renewed interest in ancient history through exhibitions devoted to Assyria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and other ancient civilizations.
Former British Museum Director Neil MacGregor, who will serve as a consultant to the project, said in a statement:
In today’s sectarian violence, the complexity of the past is distorted through ideological manipulation, neglect, and destruction. Getty’s bold new initiative will address this by developing an understanding that the world’s cultural heritage is our common heritage, and that it continues to shape us all.