Visiting the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California
The History of the Getty Center.
After the 1976 death of oil tycoon J Paul Getty his collection of antiquities at his Roman Villa in Malibu were turned over to the Getty Trust. The collection soon outgrew the Villa and another site was sought.
In 1983 the J Paul Getty Trust purchased 750 acres atop a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains. The site overlooks Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. The cost to purchase the land in 1983 was $25 million.
In 1984, after an extensive search, Richard Meier was chosen as the architect of the center. Meier, famous for his architectural Modernism, blended classical materials to express Getty's roots in the past. Construction began in 1989. By 1995 the Getty Center was only halfway completed because of significant delays with permits.
In 1997 the Getty Center was finally opened to the public.The final cost of the project was $1.3 billion.The Getty Center is one of the most visited museums in the United States with 1.3 million visitors a year.
The Getty Center houses a collection of pre-20th century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, decorative arts, and 19th and 20th century American and European photographs. Paintings by Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Degas are on exhibit to name only a few.
A quite tram takes you to the Arrival Plaza and the Museum’s Entrance Hall. There are two levels. On the Plaza level is the Museum Store, and information desk with schedules of talks, tours, and events. On the Lower Level is the Museum Lecture Hall and Museum Studio.
There is a short orientation film in the Museum Studio, a good place to start. The Museum's collections are organized from oldest in the North Pavilion to most recent in the West Pavilion on two levels.
North Pavilion ~ Art collection before 1700. Plaza level: sculptures and decorative arts such as illuminated manuscripts. On the Upper level: paintings.
East Pavilion ~ Art collection 1600 - 1800. Plaza level: sculpture and decorative arts. Upper level: paintings.
South Pavilion ~ Art collection 1600 - 1800. Plaza level: decorative arts and changing exhibitions. Upper level: paintings.
West Pavilion ~ Art collection after 1800. Plaza level: sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings. Terrace level: center for photography. Upper level: paintings.
Exhibitions Pavilion ~ Upper level: changing exhibits, ask at the information desk for a listing.
When we visited the current exhibit was Paris during the mid-18th century. During the reign of Louis XV (1723 – 1774) Paris was the fashion and cultural center of Europe. However, the period was overshadowed by the French Revolution of 1789.
The exhibit included a wide variety of objects. On display were silver candlesticks, furniture, clocks, dressing gowns, jewelry, musical instruments and games played by elite society in Paris at the time.
The objects were grouped and displayed by the visual “Four Times of Day,” the common activities, functions, and behaviors that were pursued indoors by Parisian polite society during the course of a day.
Central Gardens ~ In 1992 planning and design of the Central Garden was started by artist Robert Irwin. Completed in 1997 Irwin’s idea was an art sculpture in the form of a garden. A tree lined stream flows downward into a grotto and the flowering azalea maze. More than 500 varieties of plants are planted along foot paths surrounding the maze.
Getty Research institute ~ Plaza level: changing exhibits, lecture hall, reading room. The Institute is dedicated to furthering and advancing knowledge and understanding of the visual arts.
Vist the information desk in the Entrance Hall. Ask for advice and a map of the Getty Center and get information on tour times to plan your day.
Decide on a meeting place if your group decides to split up as the complex is fairly large.
Start with the orientation film in the small theater. Rent a Getty Guide audio tour to explain things as you walk along. Cost is $5.00.
There are nice cafes along the way to eat. However, they are pricey. There is a picnic area at the lower tram station or eat before you get there.
There are umbrella bins outside the buildings. Pick one up for shade as needed.
Wheel chairs are available at the lower tram station. If sign language interpreters are needed, call ahead.
Look for people wearing blue vests if you need any help.
Visit The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley if you have time.
Disneyland in Anaheim is a must see. Try to avoid the summer months.
Are we there yet? What to take on a road trip:
An ice chest with food, snacks and drinks for everyone. Forget sharing.
Don't forget your chargers, headphones, earplugs, meds, and a bag for garbage
Take along your Kindle and cell phone to keep yourself and the kids occupied on long road trips. Down load any e-books and apps that will help you..
Remeber to take a great camera along. We found the Sony Nex-5 to be light weight and user friendly.
Streets, freeways, and traffic jams are frustrating. Take a good GPS navigation system with you and visit off season.
GPS, Kindle, Camera, Cell Phone
- Exhibitions at the Getty
Information on current, past and future exhibitions at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.