Monday, May 26, 2014

The J. Paul Getty Museum: The Getty Center

The Getty Center, located in Brentwood, Los Angeles is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty museum and draws 1.3 million visitors annually (the Getty Villa is located in the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles). The Getty Center is a must-do when visiting Los Angeles. The collection itself features pre-20th century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and photographs. Although the special exhibitions and permanent collection (which includes Vincent Van Gough’s Irises) are notable, the space of the museum itself will knock your socks off. In fact, it has impressed many Hollywood producers and you may recognize the Getty from movies such as Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) or Thor (2011). Designed by architect Richard Meier, the campus also houses the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. Richard Meier designed the Center to include special provisions to address concerns regarding earthquakes and fires (I experienced the later while working at the Getty and the building lay out, exit strategy, well trained staff and security is par excellence!).
Super fly futuristic hovertram! 
The Getty Center is open Tuesday-Friday and Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:30 PM. The best times to visit are in the mornings or early afternoons to avoid after-work commute Los Angeles traffic (yeeks!). On Saturdays the Museum is open until 9:00 pm. The Center sits atop a hill connected to a visitors' parking garage at the bottom of the hill by a three-car, cable-pulled hovertrain funicular. Parking is $15 per car or motorcycle and $10 after 5:00 pm. All parking is handled by self-service pay stations. When arriving take a ticket upon entering, park your car and bring your ticket to any of the parking pay stations. All pay stations accept credit card and many accept cash. Entry into the actual museum, including special exhibitions, is free. 
Greetings earthlings...
The tram will take you to the arrival plaza of the museum where you will be greeted by a visitor services agent who can kindly answer any question you may have. You will also be greeted by a giant stark white naked boy holding out a frog (Charles Ray "Boy with Frog"). 

Entrance to the Museum. The main bookstore is also located in the rotunda entrance
Inside the rotunda entrance, there will be an information desk with someone to help you in case you have additional questions. You can also pick up an informational sheet of the days activities/whats on view. Across from the information desk is a station where you can borrow a free "Gettyguide" which acts as a multi-media audio guide for your visit (which also includes commentary from the Getty curators). Gettyguide's are translated in several languages. 

View of the Garden Terrace Cafe
There are many locations to eat at the Getty Center including the Garden Terrace Cafe. The smaller of the two cafes offers coffee, lunch, snacks and has outdoor seating over looking the Central Garden. For a heartier meal with more options there is a self-service Cafe on the lower level of the Restaurant/Cafe building and has indoor and outdoor dining areas. If you have more time and want to splurge a little while visiting the museum, the center has an excellent restaurant located in the Restaurant/Cafe building. The restaurant offers a full service elegant setting with views of the Santa Monica Mountains. Reservations are recommended and you can get same-day reservations either at the door of the restaurant, the Museum information desk or you can call (310) 440-6810. For a light bite there are two coffee carts at the museum which offer coffee, hot tea, espresso, drinks, bottled beverages, baked goods as well as hot and cold food options. 

View of Robert Irwin's work of art form the special exhibitions balcony 
Another spectacular work of art at the Getty Center is its 134,000-square-foot Central Garden. Created by artist Robert Irwin, he is quoted as saying that the Central Garden "is a sculpture in the form of a garden, which aims to be art." Water plays a significant role in Irwin's work of art and there is a fountain near the restaurant which flows toward the garden and appears to fall into a grotto on the north garden wall. The resulting stream then flows down the hillside into the azalea pool. The designers placed rocks and boulders of varying size in the stream bed to vary the sounds from the flowing water. A tree-lined stream descends to a plaza, while the walkway criss-crosses the stream, which continues through the plaza, and goes over a stone waterfall into a round pool. A maze of azaleas floats in the pool, around which is a series of specialty gardens. More than 500 varieties of plant material are used for the Central Garden, but the selection is "always changing, never twice the same".

Terrace between pavilions looking toward Exhibitions Pavilion and Rotunda

There are wonderful events that take place between the Exhibitions Pavilion and the Rotunda such as concerts, family activities and food evens. Make sure to check the events calendar to see what may be going on during or after museum hours (adult exhibition related lectures, the Family Festival, Friday Flights, the Saturday's off the 405 concert series are my personal favorite).
Yahooooo this place is awesome! So excited! (Marino Marini's Angel of the Citadel1950)
Whether you come for the art, a special exhibition, the food or just to marvel at the architecture (or catch some rays) the J. Paul Getty Museum Center is a wonderful and worth while way to spend a lovely day in Los Angeles. 

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