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Times Staff Writer

The J. Paul Getty Trust has appointed Michael Ester as director of the Getty Art History Information Program, concluding a long search for a person with an unusual combination of skills.

Ester, currently information systems manager at URS Berger, an environmental research firm in San Bernardino, won the appointment through his training and experience in computer technology, archeology and art history.

When he assumes his new post on Tuesday, Ester will be charged with administering the development of computerized research in bibliography, biography and information about artworks. He will also guide the Getty’s operation of such scholarly resource projects as the International Repertory of the Literature of Art, the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, the Provenance Index and the Art and Architecture Thesaurus.


Ester majored in mathematics and anthropology at George Washington University, graduating in 1970, then received doctorates in both mathematics and archeology from Brandeis in 1976.

He was an associate professor of archeology at Rutgers University for five years, also teaching courses in computer applications in the humanities, data-base management and structured programming. While working as a computer consultant, he devised a method of recording descriptions of Greek and Roman iconography for the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae in Switzerland.

Following his years in academia, Ester served as general manager at Technical Data Processing Associates in New Jersey.

One of seven operating programs at the Getty Trust, the Art History Information Program was designed to “facilitate scholarly research in the field of art history by improving access to information resources,” according to Public Affairs Director Philippa Calnan.

The other six enterprises of the trust are the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Center for Education in the Arts, the Museum Management Institute and the Program for Art on Film.