Anne Helmreich, Getty Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Access to art collections, art history, art conservation

CONTACT: ahelmreich@getty.edu, 310-440-7320

IP TAKE: Helmreich is an energetic, personable scholar, equally comfortable in the garden, among her books, or in front of a conference crowd. 

PROFILE: Anne Helmreich joined the Getty Foundation as Senior Program Officer after a successful and highly visible career as Director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In Cleveland, she was also a favorite professor among students. In Los Angeles at the Getty, she has distinguished herself as a leading expert in the emerging field of digital humanities. 

Helmreich's CV is dense with publications and fellowships, including forays into landscape architecture and public gardens at the Huntington Library and Dumbarton Oaks. Her specialty is 19th century European art, a broad designation encompassing her writing and teaching on gender and sexuality, garden design, history of photography, museum studies, national identity, and painting techniques. She has been on the receiving end of grants and fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Yale Center for British Art, the Paul Mellon Center, the Graham Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and more. Her vast connections in the world of arts foundations may indeed have been a point in her favor when selected to join the Getty staff. 

A recent focus for Helmreich is the commoditization of art, and how the sale of art affected its production. She traveled to London to dig into museum archives and investigate these questions on a National Endowment for the Humanities stipend. She then visited the Getty as a 2011 Getty Research Institute Scholar, continuing her study of the history of the art market and the rise of the commercial art dealer. That fellowship led to the publication of her most recent book, The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London: 1850-1939, co-written with Pamela Fletcher.

On the heels of all this research, Helmreich says she "[believes] strongly that display and presentation matter and shape perceptions of art." After immersing herself in history, she has surfaced with the conviction that commercial art functions much the same as it did in 19th century London. In her post at the Getty Foundation, she is likely to view all exhibition and marketing efforts with an eye for how they might affect the public's relationship to the art itself.

But Helmreich doesn’t have her head buried in the past. She is actively involved in dragging the communications and collections of the Getty into the present and future digital era. She works to preserve and digitize the lessons of art history, turning dates, art objects, and events into data that present-day arts administrators can analyze. These networks of data, Helmreich believes, allow us to discover and visualize the trends of "consumption and globalization" in arts and culture. She has been speaking widely on just this topic, sharing her "Journey into the Digital Landscape" at the American Historical Association, the Getty, Bowdoin College, and the University of Malaga. Here's an in-depth Google chat she moderates on the of digital publishing for museums. She also shares her take on the future of digital publishing for museums here:

Helmreich’s personal grantmaking area of focus is naturally Art History. The Getty is in the middle of a five-year funding cycle dubbed "Connecting Art Histories." Its aim is to bridge international boundaries to create intellectual exchange among scholars of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Helmreich’s own adventures studying in Europe are in line with the Getty’s concept of "art history as a global discipline," and she will likely draw on her experiences when considering grant applications. Watch her speak on Digital Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts below:

Mellon Research Initiative: Digital Art History Part 7 from Institute of Fine Arts on Vimeo.