search Buscar

    Getty Museum: we visit the famous art museum in Los Angeles

    Who I am
    Martí Micolau

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    Perhaps not everyone knows that Southern California, rightly known for its beaches, theme parks, the world of cinema and glamor, also has an eye for art and does it very well. We recently visited Pasadena with its countless galleries and now here in Los Angeles our destination is J. P. Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr.).

    The birth of this complex is due to Jean Paul Getty (1892-1976), American industrialist founder of Getty Oil Company. His passion for art and antiques led him to create a very ambitious project precisely because it was equally felt in which the search for pieces to be collated was even more exciting than ownership. The result is superb and today thousands of visitors from all over the world benefit from it.

    The name of the Getty is indelibly linked to a news story that filled the pages of newspapers and media screens in 1973 when Jean Paul Getty III, the tycoon's sixteen-year-old nephew, was kidnapped by a criminal organization in Rome. Grandfather's negotiations for the ransom amount were long and complex. In fact, it seems that despite the enormous wealth, Mr. JP Getty was very park, even on that occasion. The kidnappers concretely demonstrated their disappointment and their impatience with a "strong" sign sent to the family following which the story had a decisive turning point and a happy ending.


    • Where is it and how to get there
    • Opening hours and tickets
    • From the Getty Villa to the Getty Center
    • What to see at the Getty Center
      • Central Gardens
      • The Getty Center facility
      • The main works exhibited
    • The events of the Getty Center
    • Where to eat
    • Where to sleep in the area

    Where is it and how to get there

    Il Getty Center tram, reachable by lift from the car park, it leads from street level to the top of the hill where the museum complex is located; from there you can enjoy a beautiful view of Los Angeles. Those who prefer to walk can reach the hill with a moderately steep walk lasting 15-20 minutes along a sidewalk.

    Those who do not have a rental car can use the bus that depart from different areas of Los Angeles: # 20 and # 234 from Wilshire-Wester Station, # 4 and # 234 from Santa Monica Boulevard, # 234 from Greenfield Avenue and n.234 from Expo-Sepulveda Station. Of course you can also take advantage of companies Taxi.

    Opening hours and tickets

    Here are a few information to evaluate. The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 17,30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 21pm. It is closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the first day of the year.

    The entrance to the museum it's free but the car park costs 15 $, then if you intend to visit the Getty Villa on the same day you can request a pass at the information point in the Entrance Hall; in this way the parking is paid only once.

    From the Getty Villa to the Getty Center

    The residence in Malibu, called Getty Villa, was the seat of the first museum but soon the need for a larger and more suitable location for the project arose. In 1997 the Getty Center, now home to the Getty Museum and many other realities connected to it.

    About the first seat of the museum, the Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Hwy.) In Pacific Palisades / Malibu, we recommend visiting it because it is a completely different reality. The building is inspired by the Villa Dei Papiri in Herculaneum and the architectural details refer to ancient sites. In addition to being a museum of Etruscan, Roman and Greek culture, it is also an educational center dedicated to the study of the arts. Before visiting it, it is important to find out about the work in progress, maintenance and a new display of the works, which should be completed in the first months of 2018.

    What to see at the Getty Center

    In a splendid natural setting the center houses paintings, sculptures, furniture, decorative arts, drawings, manuscripts and photographs. The works take the visitor on a temporal and geographical journey that starts from Greek, Roman and Etruscan art up to the 21st century with a substantial section that dates back to the period from the Renaissance to Post-Impressionism.

    The museum continues to expand its collection through purchases and donations, it also temporarily exhibits works found in other important museums and the fact that for the occasion some masterpieces leave their country for the first time is a source of great pride for the Getty Center.

    Central Gardens

    It is also possible to make visits with the help of expert guides who carry out tours including the splendid gardens. We choose to be independent on a beautiful sunny day, ideal to start with Central Gardens, immersed in an area of ​​about 12.000 square meters, created by the American artist Robert Irwin particularly known for his three-dimensional effect works.

    From tree-lined paths, fountains, a stream and one waterfall, walking is a real pleasure. In this natural environment more than 500 varieties of plants of a thousand colors meet; we are surrounded by cacti, lavender, sage, verbene, roses, bougainvillea, azaleas, ornamental oregano, even Canary Island daisies and golden-leaved New Zealand irises that we didn't even know existed. In this floral and aromatic paradise you can see lees in the distance Santa Monica Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles: a really nice view.

    This green area is defined as "a sculpture with the shape of a garden", in fact the name fits perfectly for the attention to aesthetics and because modern and contemporary sculptures "grow" among the plants whose presence continues in various points of the complex; to confirm this as we head towards the entrance some statues and works of art welcome us along the staircase.

    The Getty Center facility

    The time has come to get to the heart of our visit, to approach the works. The large Getty Center complex is made up of several buildings built in a modern style. Often modernity is synonymous with architectural coldness but not in this case; what appears before our eyes is a harmonious and inviting structure whose light color makes it luminous. Architect Richard Meier designed the architectural elements in such a way as to benefit as much as possible from natural light and this concept is clearly evident when the light illuminating the interior is visible from the external windows.

    The structure of the complex is curved in shape and travertine stone was used to give brightness, enhance solidity, simplicity, warmth and craftsmanship. Since Getty's death, the foundation that manages the museum has continued to make important purchases to increase and raise the level of the collections. The arrangement of the works is not permanent and this happens not only for exhibition and aesthetic reasons but also for safety.

    At the time of our visit the exhibitions are divided between North Pavilion (paintings up to 1600, manuscripts, as well as medieval and Renaissance sculptures and decorative arts), East Pavilion (mainly 17th century paintings and Baroque art), South Pavilion (18th century paintings, and most of the European decorative art collection up to 1800) e West Pavilion (sculptures and decorative arts from 1700 to 1900, 19th century paintings, neoclassical and Romanesque sculptures and decorative arts).

    We are not profound connoisseurs of art but we feel in tune with the philosophical principle of Henry D. Thoreau stated here: "it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" - "it's not what you look at that counts, it's what you see ”and for this reason we want to let the works speak to us, transmit emotions to us.

    The information point is in the Entrance Hall, a high and wide entrance that overlooks a central courtyard in front of which the two-story pavilions are clearly visible. Visitors are free to choose which sequence to enter according to their interests, especially if the time available is not unlimited. In general, the paintings in the West pavilion require some attention and it was the same for us, but this does not necessarily apply to everyone and we do not want to remove the element of surprise that we consider fundamental.

    We are in the States and, as usual, in the Entrance Hall we see an inevitable theme shop, the Museum Store. Here you can buy downtown souvenirs in the form of stationery, clothing, jewelry, books, games and even home furnishings. You can also shop online.

    The main works exhibited

    After familiarizing ourselves with the structure in the hall, maps in hand, we begin the visit. We notice sculptures and works of art dating back to the times of ancient Rome and Greece and then we stop to appreciate the work entitled Amphora Attica Panatenaica which dates back to the Hellenic civilization; this terracotta amphora shows in its front part Athena, goddess of war and protector of the Greek capital. The name derives instead from the religious festival Panathenaia in honor of the goddess, an event that at the time took place every four years and included athletics and music competitions. To reward the winners, the amphorae were filled with olive oil obtained from trees sacred to the divinity.

    Among the paintings on display we appreciate masterpieces of great caliber impressionists. From the series of thirty paintings by Many representing the cathedral of Rouen (perhaps 31, the count is doubtful) publicly and privately located between Europe, the USA and Japan, here at the Getty we find the version called The facade of Rouen cathedral with the morning light, oil on canvas of 1894 , made with a particular effect of color and soft light.

    For the skilful reproduction of objects of everyday life we ​​then focus on the Still life with blue cup by Cezanne, dated early '900, while of Rembrandt we like to point out The Rapture of Europa, one of the few works by the author with a mythological subject with the goddess Phenicia kidnapped by Zeus in the guise of a white bull. Later we recognize the work of Van Gogh called Iris in which the shades of blue and green stand out. It dates back to 1889 and it is singular that this oil on canvas was made while the author was in an asylum in France.

    It is also nice to note the presence of works by Italian artists such as Andrea Mantegna with The Adoration of the Magi, a splendid painting on canvas from the late 400th century. We are then enchanted by a delicious desk of the '700 made by the German artist David Roentgen whom we do not know but whom we immediately appreciate for having created something really special; the neoclassical style work was created using different types of wood: pine, oak, fir, mahogany and maple but also metals such as bronze and steel and it is not a simple desk but a masterpiece made with the insertion of complicated mechanical appliances.

    Our attention is also captured by the work called L'Astronomo, a tapestry made in France with silk, cotton and wool in which we can see a Chinese emperor, a winged dragon, a globe, a peacock and the protagonist: the astronomer with the telescope. It is part of the beautiful collection of French furniture and decorative art objects, the founder's first love.

    Not even statues like that of Venus go unnoticed, a reproduction of the Hellenic work of the goddess of love dating back to the 2nd century BC, and those of Juno and Minerva made with great technique by Joseph Nollekens who immortalized the goddess of marriage in Roman mythology and the Roman goddess of war and wisdom respectively. As in mythology, here too their beauty is in competition.

    The events of the Getty Center

    As we continue with our visit we become aware of the projects that the center promotes and develops for a better understanding of art and to preserve its cultural heritage. In this regard, scholarships are established and programs are in place to encourage students' interest in the subject. In the fifth pavilion, called Exhibition Pavilion, exhibitions of various kinds alternate, also announced by public events to facilitate their understanding and to arouse greater interest.

    Within this dynamic complex, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) is an institute dedicated to the knowledge, development and advancement of the visual arts. The Research Library is a library that houses collections of rare materials and that makes use of digital resources, precious for carrying out research work. Then there is a big one Auditorium where conferences are held.

    From the 2013 J. P. Getty medal it is an honor that is awarded annually to those who have made an important contribution to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.

    We keep in mind that the love and interest in the conservation, study and development of art never ends for those who work here at the Getty, indeed the ideas have expanded to the point of creating a project called Getty Around The World currently made up of nine other companies around the world (Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Morocco, Italy, Ireland, Germany, India and China) which collaborate closely with the Los Angeles offices.

    Where to eat

    And for those feeling peckish, there are four options. The local named Il Restaurant it is located in an elegant setting from which you can admire the Santa Monica Mountains. The Cafes instead it is a self-service place where you can eat both indoors and outdoors, choosing from quick but tasty dishes such as sandwiches, soups, vegetables, pizza and some Mexican dishes. At Garden Terrace Cafè coffee, snacks and lunch are served in an outdoor setting. In addition, the Coffee Carts, strategic carts where you can buy drinks, sweets, biscuits and fruit.

    And when we visit these sites we keep in mind the German painter Klee's statement, a real motto for the Getty complex: "Art does not reproduce what is visible, it makes things visible", "art does not reproduce what is visible , makes things visible ".

    Where to sleep in the area

    The Getty Center is located very close to the upscale neighborhood of Bel Air renowned throughout the world for hosting some of the most beautiful villas in Los Angeles. As you can guess, luxury hotels are the masters but, looking well, you can also find some cheaper solution. You can read our recommendations in the section dedicated to the best hotels in Bel Air.

    If, on the other hand, you want to have a more general idea of ​​the neighborhoods and all the accommodation solutions that the city of angels offers, you can take a look at our article entirely dedicated to where to sleep in Los Angeles.

    add a comment from Getty Museum: we visit the famous art museum in Los Angeles
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.