As soon as I discovered it, I was bitten by the Getty bug! Indeed, the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa offers art exhibitions, pleasant gardens, remarkable architecture and much more.
I really love these places and I’m going to the Getty Museum a few times per year either to discover a new temporary photography exhibit, picnic and chill in the garden, listen to concerts or simply to enjoy sunsets over Los Angeles. This place is unique offering educational and recreational purpose to visitors.
A pinch of History
- Jean Paul Getty (1892-1976) was a businessman and an art collector.
- At his death, he left a fortune to the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust.
- They decided to build this museum to pursue Jean Paul Getty’s vision.
- It opened in 1997 after 10 years of construction.
- The Getty Center attracts 1.8 million visitors per year.
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains along the busy 405 highway, the Getty Museum is a 110 acres hilltop complex. The white tram brings visitors from the parking lot to the six building compound. As you ascend, enjoy the view of the Brentwood neighborhood. Need to exercise? Walk up ¾ mile to access the entrance of the museum.
Designated by Richard Meier, the Getty Center architecture is distinct by its curvilinear design and the beige-colored stones. The architect worked with the natural topography to create an open complex in harmony with nature. Limited by two stories above grade, buildings are connected underground thanks to underpass corridors allowing artwork moves.
The selection of material was important as the “stone expresses qualities the Getty Center celebrates: permanence, solidity, simplicity, warmth, and craftsmanship » [The Getty Center]. As a result, 16,000 tons of travertine was imported from Italy.
One of the highlights of the site is definitely the panoramic view. Crossed in between (or walked through) South and West Pavilion to access the Cactus Garden. From there, panorama extends as far as Santa Monica to the Pacific Ocean with the large street-grid of Los Angeles. This viewpoint is gorgeous during sunset!
In between two exhibits, I like to relax and walk through the 134,000 square foot garden. This place is really quiet and peaceful with plants, fountains, cactuses, etc. An agreeable gem from the city’s fever. I really like to come during spring to delight my senses with the blooming, musky and colorful vegetation.
Art & Photography
Art lover, this museum is rich in multiple arts from pre-20th centuries to contemporary with painting, drawings, sculptures, decorative art, and photography.
The permanent exhibits host:
- pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts,
- 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs; contemporary,
- Modern sculpture.
Below are some of the exhibitions I enjoyed:
- Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium. I discovered this photograph through his portraits, flowers, and nudes during his 1970-1990 period.
- Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media. This exhibition explored artist’s works in reaction to media’s coverage regarding international politics, military conflicts, and local stories. Really interesting, especially regarding the conflict in Rwanda.
- Photography in Argentina 1850-2010: contradiction and continuity.
- Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011
Concerts and other events
Looking for outdoor concerts, I discovered in 2016 the Getty360 initiatives. Every summer, they organize a series of concerts called ”Off the 405” in reference to the 405 highway near the museum. The live performance starts at 7pm in the central courtyard. I like to see an exhibit before and then enjoy the performance. It is super fun evenings in the heart of the Getty! Be ready to dance (no seat available) or simply eat and drink at the kiosks available around.
The Getty360 proposes also multiples activities like conferences, lectures, culinary workshops, families’ activities, etc. I’m looking for it regularly as there are plenty of interesting events during the year.
Picnic and Chill
Need a leisure break? Grab your picnic (dining option available at the museum too), sunglasses and a long chair to relax in the garden. When temperatures are rising, especially during summer, the garden is a perfect area to picnic and chill. Thanks to its elevation, fountains, and plants, the place is cooler than the heart of the city. I like to bring my lunch or snacks, lay down the grass or on my Fatboy, read, take a nap or chill. Really relaxing time!
Artwork starts before entering the museum with outdoor sculptures. They are located in different places across the complex. The film producer Ray Stark and his wife offered it to the museum. Among them, you can see the Cardinale Seduto (1975-77) by the artist Giacomo Manzù, the Standing Woman I by Alberto Giacometti, and Air by Aristide Maillol.
Did you get the bug too?
- Free museum! You only have to pay $15 for the parking ($10 after 3pm).
- A free self-guided audio tour for exhibitions is available in different languages (in exchange for a photo ID).
- Free exhibitions, garden and architecture tours are available daily.
- Bring your picnic, enjoy the exhibition and concert for a chilling day.
- More information at http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/