Of all the places to visit in Los Angeles, the museums, restaurants, exhibits, theme parks, and much more, the Getty Center by far tops my list. It is my favorite place in LA. In fact, I visited it for the first time on only my second trip to California to see my sister, way back when. And since then, more than ten years ago, I have been to the Getty countless times. I even drove up the day before I took my board exams; I sat and read a mindless book for 4 hours to distract myself.
For a little history, J. Paul Getty was a wealthy American and the founder of the Getty Oil Company. He used his wealth partially to collect art and antiquities, the collection that created the Getty Museum. The trust he created went on to fund the Getty Museum, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute; these foundations form the world’s largest cultural and philanthropic organization solely dedicated to visual arts. Along with the Getty Museum is the Getty Villa, a smaller property which houses ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art.
While the many halls of artwork are fascinating to walk through, the architecture of the Getty is a work of art in its own right. There are multiple buildings, many of which are connected by glass walkways overlooking a large patio with fountains and a cafe. The buildings themselves are made of white limestone (well, covering the concrete and steel that create the foundation but I don’t want to ruin the illusion), which against the smoggy backdrop of Los Angeles feels crisp and refreshing. The museum is filled with European and American art, and modern art, with the occasional photography exhibition. There are Picassos, Monets, Van Goghs, among others.
And while the art is lovely to look at, the biggest draw is the views. Sitting atop the 405 Freeway, there are amazing panoramic views of all of LA, from Bel Air to downtown LA to the beach and Catalina (on a clear day). From the top of one of the buildings, you can look down at the gardens, complete with a spiral pattern made out of shrubs and water cascading down a small waterfall starting at the top of the property. Depending on the time of year, the gardens are more plentiful than other seasons. With a labyrinth-type pattern, it is nice to lazily wander through. I’ve never been but during the summer, the Getty stays open late so you can watch the sunset over the city.
The Getty is perfect for people of all ages; we brought Lorelei recently and she loved walking around (of course we didn’t see any artwork) and one time I saw a family celebrating their matriarch’s 100th birthday.
But as popular as the Getty is, it never feels all that crowded and is somewhat of an escape which I appreciate because it’s difficult to find in Southern California. This is definitely one of the places I will miss the most when I move.