Archival Collections:

The Getty Research Institute


The Getty Research Institute

The Getty Research Institute is housed within the J. Paul Getty Museum which also contains a Conservation Institute and a Leadership Institute. The Getty Research Institute has a library of 800,000 volumes and important archives for provenance research. It has an on-line research catalogue, provenance index databases, digital resources and a photo collection database. In addition, it organises lectures, symposia, exhibitions and has a publication programme.

The Research Library  has a database of 500,000 bibliographic records for the books, journals and auction catalogues, and records for about 3,000 archival and photographic collections comprising about two million photographs. The Library has two searchable on-line catalogues: IRIS and Photo Study Collection Database. The auction catalogues consist of over 110,000 volumes from the 17th century to the present day. For the online catalogue of the Research Library's holdings, consult

The Research Library has unique archival records regarding  the looting and subsequent disposal of Nazi-era assets. Some of these resources are listed online.

In addition to records useful for provenance research and post-war art dealings, they include the files of investigators for the Monument and Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) sub-Commission. This was a British and US organisation set up in 1943 to protect works of art from destruction in war-torn Europe. It was composed of art historians, museum curators, archivists and librarians. Towards the end of the war the MFA&A was active in investigations of individuals and agencies involved in looting and in the subsequent preservation and restitution of art.

Among the Nazi era archives in the Getty Institute are:

  • Douglas Cooper, Papers. ca. 1933-1945. During World War II Cooper served as an investigator attached to the British MFA&A. Included within the Douglas Cooper papers are a series entitled 'Papers relating to Nazi art collections, 1940-46'. Box 42 contains war-related correspondence and reports, Beltrand appraisals of paintings confiscated by the ERR; OSS (Office of Strategic Services) Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 2 and Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 4, and other papers. Box 43 contains a photographic reproduction of correspondence with Walter Andreas Hofer, the curator of the art collection amassed by Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring.
  • Ellis K. Waterhouse Notebooks and research files. Waterhouse served as an investigator attached to the MFA&A in 1945 in Holland and Germany.
  • Otto Wittmann, Collection of Papers relating to Wittmann's work in the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU)of the U.S. War Department's Office of Strategic Services 1945-1946.
  • Fine Arts (Special Services). Dutch Restitution Committee. Detailed Interrogation Report No. 1: Kajetan Mühlmann and the Dienststelle Mühlmann (typescript), 25 December 1945. The report provides details of the trade in looted property by the Dienststelle Mühlmann including inventories of looted artworks.
  • Ardelia Hall records (microfilm of National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holdings). 'These include microfilm copies of over 50,000 property cards from the Central Collecting Point, Munich; records of works of art looted by Göring and stored at Berchtesgaden; records of looted works of art stored at Alt Aussee and destined for Hitler's Linz Museum; and detailed records of post-war restitution.

    Among dealer records in the Getty Institute are those of the G. Cramer Oude Kunst Gallery of The Hague, made available in August 2012. These are a rich resource for the study of the international market in Old Master paintings. The records document the gallery's business and financial dealings since the early 1920s until the late 1990s, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1938 to 1998. The records also include a portion of the photographic archive, including circa 500 glass plate negatives, and sales catalogs.

    According to the Getty, this may be the only uncensored dealer archive documenting the art market in Nazi-occupied Europe. The gallery's correspondence from 1936 to 1967, including material regarding the firm's dealings with Nazi agents for Adolf Hitler's museum in Linz, is now available for research. The remainder of the collection is still being processed. To view the finding aid, click here.

    A new resource in 2012 is The Getty Research Portal™, launched at the end of May 2012, is an online search platform providing a one-stop multilingual global access to digitised art history texts, rare books, and related literature that are not restricted by copyright. Also included are historical auction sales catalogues. The Portal texts are free, downloadable, and digitised in their entirety according to national and international standards. The Portal is free to all users. Click here to access the Portal.

    The Portal has the potential to revolutionize how art historians conduct research by widening the availability of rare books, early foundational literature, and important periodicals from libraries across the world. It will especially benefit students and scholars without access to a major art history library.

    It was created by a working group of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, the Frick Art Reference Library, the Getty Research Institute, the Heidelberg University Library, and the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA). The number of potentially contributing institutions is unlimited and the project is funded by the Getty.

    Other resources in the Getty include the Felbermeyer Photographs for the Central Collecting Point, Munich, ca. 1945 made available in 2012 online:

    Konrad Roethel at the Central Collecting Point Munich 1949

    Taken by the Munich-born photographer Johannes Felbermeyer, more than 1,100 prints and negatives record the repatriation of art after World War II, depicting those involved in the process- art-historical and military figures including Edgar Breitenbach, General Lucius D. Clay, Charles Parkhurst, Rodolfo Siviero, and Craig Hugh Smyth and approximately 500 European paintings and sculptures. Available at the Getty Research Institute, these have now been digitised and can be browsed and searched here.

    Contact Information
    The Getty Research Institute
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles CA 90049-1688
    Tel: +1 310 440 7335
    General Research Institute inquiries:

    The Research Library at the Getty Research Institute <>, accessed on 6 July 2007/ October 2012.

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