Completed in 1997 at a tune of $1.3 billion, The Getty Center remains one of Los Angeles’ most iconic hilltop museums for visitors and locals alike. With a beaituflly landscaped campus, a wealth of artifacts and information, it’s a true gem in Los Angeles and one place every Angeleno should feel like to have in their backyard.
The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
One of the most wonderful things about the Getty museum, aside that it houses a collection of magnificent and priceless works of art, is that it’s available to the public for free. In addition, there are no velvet ropes keeping yards of empty space between you and the art. People are allowed to get up close and personal (no touching of course), so close you can see the hairline cracks in sculptures and paintbrush hairs dried in the paint. The Getty Center has its world renowned permanent collection as well as rotating exhibits and limited photography displays available six days a week. But if you’ve never been there, the place can be a little overwhelming. In order to make the most of your time while visiting the museum, check out this visitor’s guide to the Getty.
While entrance to the Getty is free, parking is not. The fee is $15 per car or motorcycle any day of the week. For days, there are extended hours the parking is $10 after 5 p.m. There are self-serve pay stations, handicapped-accessible spaces and limited plug-in parking for electric vehicles. There’s a tram that will take you from the parking garage to the Getty museum and back. It runs very frequently and wait time is short.
While no outside food, with the exception of baby bottles, is allowed in the galleries people are welcomed to bring their lunches to the lawn adjacent to the Central Garden for a lovely picnic. Food is available inside the restaurant/cafe building. The restaurant leans more towards casual fine dining, and reservations are recommended. The cafe is more of a food court style serving everything from pizza and hot dogs.
The Getty is divided into Pavilions. Each Pavilion houses a collection of work that are categorized and subcategorized by centuries and periods. Collections are displayed in large rooms, many with comfortable seating for pondering and appreciation. The North Pavilion displays works of art from the medieval and Renaissance periods from artists like Hans Hoffmann as well as many Italian paintings up until the 1600s. The pavilion is divided into four categories by period and theme. Original writings and books, many Northern European, and sacred works of art as well as stained glass, ceramics and spectacular hand carved furniture can also be found here. The South Pavilion is where you can find the majority of the museum’s collection of 17th and 18th-century paintings and decorative art like The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis by Jacques-Louis David.
The East Pavilion is a grand collection of sculptures and decorative art. Baroque art from Belgium, Spain, Italy and France from the 17th to the 19th century is also on display, including works by Caravaggio and Vouet.
One of the more popular collections is held in the West Pavilion. Neoclassical, Romantic and Symbolist sculptures can be found throughout the Pavilion. Many 19th-century paintings are on view, as well a portion of the museum’s collection of photographic work.
The Getty also hosts pieces on loan from museums from around the world. Some of the past presentations have included Jackson Pollock’s Mural, “Miracles and Martyrs: Saints in the Middle Ages” and “Chivalry in the Middle Ages.” Future exhibits like “Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV” and “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” are just a few of the presentations you won’t want to miss. Check the website for upcoming exhibits.
Talks And Tours
Even with a visitor’s map the Getty can get confusing, and you run the risk of missing something amazing. The Getty offers tours throughout the Pavilions by knowledgeable guides who will highlight significant pieces and go into detail about the origin, the artist and mediums. The tours are available every day throughout the day. There are also scheduled talks by curators and conservators who speak about new acquisitions and special exhibits. All talks and tours are free.
The Getty museum not only makes priceless works of art accessible to the public but it helps cultivate, encourage and inspire budding artists. The Getty offers art classes in drawing that teach techniques in mastering some of the trickier aspects of the human form like hands, face proportions and using light and shadow properly. The Getty also offers classes in gem cutting, sculpting and bronze casting.
The magnificent gardens are works of art themselves with more than 500 varieties of plant material. The perfectly sculpted landscaping includes statues, modern sculptures, bougainvillea arbors, fountains and foliage that help you shed the confinement of city life. The garden covers 134,000 square feet and is constantly changing from season to season. Check the website for upcoming classes and availability.
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