Getty Foundation: Grants for College Arts and Humanities

OVERVIEW: The Getty Foundation is one of the most influential when it comes to the visual arts. The foundation supports just about every area of the field, including art history, conservation, increased access to museums and archives, and development of current and future arts leaders. Several of Getty's current award areas have aspects that benefit post-secondary institutions. A number of grants are invitation only, but Getty also maintains an online list of current competitive awards.

IP TAKE: Los Angeles-based universities tend to receive preference from Getty, but the foundation awards grants across the country and throughout the world. The foundation's grant strategies sometimes shift focus, so be sure to stay up to date on its initiatives.

PROFILE: Throughout its existence, Getty’s fundamental goals have stayed consistent, with a four-pronged mission to “increase access to museum collections, strengthen art history as a global discipline, advance conservation practice, and support current and future leaders in the visual arts.” Currently, the Getty Foundation’s grant-making features a wide array of initiatives that drive the majority of its funding.

The good news about Getty is its long history as a strong supporter of colleges and universities in a lot of different ways. A driving force throughout the foundation’s work is a desire to help institutions and individuals pursue careers, research and professional development opportunities in art history and the humanities. For colleges and universities, especially those that have a tradition of training students in these areas, that’s welcome news.

The only really discouraging factor for college fundraisers is that the foundation doesn’t have a specific higher education program. All grants that benefit universities come out of its general programs, so you will often be competing against not only other schools, but also nationally and internationally renowned research and conservation institutes and museums. Also, the foundation’s initiatives have a tendency to change, so stay on the lookout for emerging or reconfigured programs.

As far as recent grants in higher education, Los Angeles-based universities tend to have preference, but the foundation does award grants across the country, and throughout the world. Recent grants for higher ed institutions have included support for initiatives like curriculum development, a summer art institute, on-campus exhibits, conservation efforts and seminars.

For those looking at the big trends in Getty’s giving, the foundation offers a grants database that is impressively vast in scope, documenting awards as far back as 1984.

Getty is also a big funder of undergraduate internships at a variety of arts organizations and universities, both in Los Angeles and beyond. Graduate internships also play strongly into their strategy; the foundation awards grants to graduate students to study and conduct research at the Getty Research Institute or Getty Museum.

Not to be overlooked are Getty’s Special Projects and Residential Grants and Fellowships. Among the latter, scholars will find valuable opportunities in Getty’s Scholar Grants (for established, prominent scholars), Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships (geared at “emerging scholars who are working on projects related to the Getty Research Institute's annual theme”), and “partial, short-term support for scholars whose research requires use of collections housed in the Getty Research Institute.”

Another interesting vehicle for support is Getty's Digital Art History Initiative, which gives grants that enable “art historians to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by [new] technologies” through training workshops, help them “to plan for innovative research and publication projects that will establish new models for the field,” and “support convenings to address key issues in digital art history.” Awards through the Digital Art History initiative have been relatively few, but you can take a look at them here.

According to the foundation: “The majority of the Getty Foundation's grants for institutions and organizations are awarded through special initiatives focused on a specific issue or region,” and applications are frequently “by invitation rather than through open competition.” However, the foundation posts an updated list of currently open competitive grants on its application page.

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