In 2018 the Getty Foundation launched The Paper Project, a philanthropic initiative to fund the curation of graphic arts held in the archives of museums across the country. “Permanent collections that include prints and drawings are the lifeblood of museums, archives and libraries,” said Heather MacDonald, senior program officer at the Getty Foundation, in a press statement. “As the cultural sector moves into post-pandemic rebuilding, institutions have a tremendous opportunity to refocus on their own holdings while they also invest in the professional growth of their staff.”
In line with this project, the foundation recently bestowed more than $1.5 million in grants to 19 museums around the world, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the National Gallery of Slovenia, that will allow them to highlight their collections of illustrated works both in-person and online.
In particular, many of the institutions that received grants will produce exhibitions, publications, and digital projects with an emphasis on historic architecture drawings. India’s City Palace Museum, for instance, received 7,000,000 Indian Rupees ($94,000 USD) to showcase its collection of over 2,000 never-before-exhibited maps, landscape, and architectural drawings that represent Udaipur, known as the “City of Lakes,” over the course of four centuries. “Together, these media provide an opportunity for guest curator Shailka Mishra to study and present shifts in the visualization of architecture and landscape over more than two centuries,” the museum claims, “tracing how Udaipur artists responded to transformations in cartographic practice.”
Closer to home, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood will use the $75,000 received by the foundation to curate Print-Ready Drawings, an exhibition highlighting the innovative use of collaged mechanical documents developed between 1960 and 1980. “Eluding stable categorization as drawing and not yet print, the mechanical document is often overlooked despite its ubiquity in postwar architectural practice,” wrote Sarah Hearne, the curator of Print-Ready Drawings. Alongside original artifacts, the MAK Center will include workshops that offer a platform for architecture curators to share their knowledge with those of the graphic arts.
The Getty Foundation is the philanthropic branch of the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Los Angeles-based art institution that operates the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa in Malibu. The trust has regularly provided funding for the advancement of architecture studies, most notably through its 2019 initiative that will invest $100 million over a ten year period toward site-specific conservation efforts around the world, as well as its comprehensive exhibition on the Notre Dame Cathedral held at the Getty Center that same year.