California Museums


The Getty Museum, Los Angeles

1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Getty Museum at the Getty Center is one of the finest museums in California and perhaps, the world. Sometimes simply called "The Getty", this Los Angeles free admission museum is one of the best free tourist attractions in California, and in the world. Perhaps that is why it is so popular with tourists from around the globe who come daily to gaze at the stunning scenery that surrounds the massive complex overlooking the Santa Monica mountains, Pacific Ocean, and downtown Los Angeles. The museum was built in the Santa Monica mountains near the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.

Built from the ground up based on the architectural design of famed architect Richard Meier, the Italian travertine campus of six buildings is organized around a central arrival plaza. 1.2 million square feet of beige-colored, cleft-cut, textured, fossilized travertine was used in the project that includes curvilinear design elements and natural gardens that soften the grid created by the travertine squares. The 16,000 tons of travertine were mined in Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, 15 miles east of Rome. Split along its natural grain, Meier and his staff worked for a year with the Bagni di Tivoli quarries to invent a "guillotine" process that would result in a rough textured finish, including fossilized leaves, feathers, and branches in many stones. Travertine panels cover not only the retaining walls and the bases of all buildings, but also serve as paving stones for the arrival plaza and Museum courtyard, and on indoor walls in transitional spaces between galleries.

Meier positioned buildings along a natural ridge in the hilltop to comply with neighbors' requests that the complex be no more than two stories above grade. To accommodate and preserve nearby views, buildings are built into the ground and are linked with subterranean corridors. Architect Richard Meier sought to design the new complex so that it highlights both nature and culture, creating a synchronistic, organic whole.

Things to see:

Five exhibition pavilions, plus the Getty Research Institute Exhibition Gallery comprise an amazing display and array of art. And best of all, you CAN take pictures with hand-held cameras (flash not allowed) in permanent galleries and many other locations of the museum.

  • 17th-century Baroque art that includes Dutch, French, Flemish, and Spanish paintings as well as sculpture and Italian decorative arts dating from 1600 to 1800 is located in East Pavilion.
  • 18th-century paintings and European decorative arts collection, complete with elaborately furnished paneled rooms, dating up to 1800 in South Pavilion.
  • 1700s through 1900, as well as 19th-century paintings, sculpture and Italian decorative arts are located in
    West Pavilion.
  • 1600 Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts are located on the plaza-level galleries.

Permanent Collection - An amazing and priceless collection of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; 19th & 20th century American and European photographs; East Pavilion 17th-century Baroque art of Dutch, French, Flemish, and Spanish paintings; sculpture and Italian decorative arts dating from 1600 to 1800; 18th century paintings; furnished paneled rooms dating up to 1800; Italian decorative arts of the 1700s through 1900; 19th-century paintings; Neoclassical, Romantic, and Symbolist sculpture; paintings dating up to 1600; medieval and Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts are a mere sampling of what is on display.

With a fine art collection representing great painters over a 500-year span, sculptures, photographs, and a variety of media, this mega-museum is a cultural Mecca. The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Grant Program. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs are based at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The Central Garden - is a 134,000-square-foot outdoor space created by renowned artist Robert Irwin. Features include a natural ravine with waterfalls and tree-lined walkway.

Where to eat: Cafe at the Getty Center is a sit-down restaurant offering lunch and dinner menus, and Sunday Brunch. Sandwiches, salads, wraps, hamburgers and other such foods are served at lunch. A more casual counter service at Garden Terrace Cafe features outdoor dining overlooking the Getty Gardens. Several coffee carts are located on the grounds of The Getty.

Where to stay: Hotel Angelino is a four star hotel, famous for its unique building shaped like a column rising into the air. Visible from the 405 - San Diego Freeway, it is adjacent to the Getty Center. If you want nice and close, stay there. It is the only hotel right next to the Getty. Also nearby are UCLA and Westwood and Santa Monica beaches a 10 to 15 minute drive.

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