Sitting at 800 feet above sea level, close to the Santa Monica Mountains, a hilltop complex holds the Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute. Covering 110 acres of land, with art exhibits dating back to the 8thcentury, with equally impressive architecture and immaculately kept gardens, it is no wonder that the Getty Museum attracts 1.8 million annual visitors.
The Getty Museum is divided into 5 separate pavilions, the North Building features exhibits dating before 1600, including illuminated manuscripts. The exhibits of the east and South buildings date from 1600-1800, which also covers Baroque European art, sculpture, and Italian decorative artifacts. The West building features art from 1800 to contemporary including Van Gogh’s Irises and photography collection from across continents. The 5th pavilion is the Getty Research Institute Exhibitions which are constantly changing.
The architecture of the center, designed by Pritzker Prize-Winning Architect Richard Meier, makes the visit even more rewarding. Visitors can’t help but appreciate the architectural splendor through the use of metal, glass, and Italian Travertine, the same stone used in iconic Roman architecture including the Vatican Basilica and the coliseum. There are also daily tours explaining the architecture, including the gardens which are crucial in bringing the whole structure together. The landscaping of the gardens is designed to offer a perfect balance to the architecture. The central garden is 134,000 square feet and is conceived by artist Robert Irwin, other gardens include the cactus garden and two sculpture gardens.
There are ample dining possibilities from full-service dining, to self-service cafe-style dining to more casual outdoor catering service stalls. Alternatively, a picnic area is also available close to the tram station. The center is accessible to all abilities including wheelchairs. There are multiple gift shops, including one dedicated for children and another dedicated to photography enthusiasts.
The J Paul Getty Trust is a philanthropic foundation with the aim to promote the arts and humanities. The Getty Center museum, which opened in December 1997, started from a millionaire’s private collection in what is now the Getty Villa, based on a Roman-style villa.
The Getty Center is definitely worth a visit, and one visit is still not enough to appreciate the brilliance of this magnificent museum. While the art, sculpture and exhibits are simply priceless, the architecture of the center makes the experience even more memorable.