Getty Research Institute

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Photographs: 2,000,000
Website | Online catalogue 

The Research Library at the Getty Research Institute focuses on the history of art, architecture, and archaeology with relevant materials in the humanities and social sciences. The range of the collections begins with prehistory and extends to contemporary art. Presently, the collections are strongest in the history of western European art and culture in Europe and North America; however, in recent years, they have expanded to include other areas, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, and selected regions of Asia. 

The general library collections include over one million volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogs. The literature of art history, the methods and materials of artistic production, and conservation are core areas of the holdings in classical antiquities, medieval and Renaissance art, sculpture and the decorative arts, prints and drawings, and photography. The conservation collection includes more than 45,000 titles and 60,000 volumes of primary and secondary sources related to the conservation, management, and protection of cultural property from paintings to architecture.

The special collections consist of rare and unique materials from the 15th century to the present: nearly 50,000 rare books, more than 27,000 single prints and drawings in albums and collections, 800 collections of rare photographs, and more than 12,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives, as well as optical devices and 20th-century multiples and videos. These diverse resources have been acquired for their research value to art historians and scholars in related fields.

Photo Archive

In 1974, the J. Paul Getty Museum developed a “photo library” by consolidating the visual resources collected by each curatorial department.  In 1983, the “library” was incorporated into the new Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities and quickly grew to become one of the world’s largest collections of photographs of Western art from antiquity to the 1940’s, with total holdings of approximately two million photographs.  In addition, collection development moved away from acquiring an encyclopedic range of commercially available photographs in large numbers to acquisitions of photo archives and accompanying documentation assembled by art historians, conservators, archaeologists, photographers, and dealers.  In 1997, the Photo Archive moved to Brentwood with the newly renamed Getty Research Institute.

The Photo Archive's holdings provide supplementary and original research from antiquity to the modern period. Collecting areas include paintings, sculpture, architecture, and minor and decorative arts.  Patrons can use these photographs to conduct a wide range of research, including the history of collecting (provenance, art market, connoisseurship), iconography, conservation, art historiography, and the history of photography and photographic reproductions of works of art.