I finally made my way to the infamous Getty museum a few weeks ago! I brought my little sister Lauren along for this adventure the day after Christmas. She recently graduated with a degree in Art History, loves art/history/culture more than anything (she even lived in Turkey for 9 months last year, learning and exploring all on her own!), and is one of the most intelligent and fascinating people I know. She had been to the Getty about 3 times before but had not visited for many years, so she was excited to both play tour guide and explore the newer exhibits. The day after Christmas happened to fall on a Saturday, so it was pretty darn packed with what seemed to be both locals and tourists. Even though it was a little hectic and overwhelming here and there, it was still a totally worthwhile adventure.
While admission to the Getty museum is free, you will need to pay $15 per car to park once you arrive. The only downfall about the logistics at the Getty is that the main parking lot is about 1 mile away from the museum entrance. You can either take a free tram up the hill, or if you’d rather stretch your legs after the drive, you can walk up the hill (roughly ¾ mile) to the entrance of the museum. My sister and I both love to be active and didn’t feel like waiting in line, so we decided to walk up to the museum and back to the parking lot afterward. It was chilly outside, and we were pretty drained walking down the hill after perusing the many exhibits, but I still appreciated the exercise.
As you make your way up the hill one way or another, you will arrive at the entrance and be greeted by the iconic and stunning all-white museum exterior. According to the Getty’s website, “A unique destination, the Getty Center incorporates the modern design of architect Richard Meier, with beautiful gardens, open spaces, and spectacular views of Los Angeles.” 1.2 million square feet of white travertine stone from Italy cover the surfaces throughout the Getty Center, making it b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. The buildings are both minimalistic and modernistic, and the grounds are garnished with sculptures of all shapes and sizes. The grounds of the Getty museum are impressive, as are the many views you will experience of Los Angeles since it's perched high up on a hill. I’d recommend checking out The Central Garden Lawn and Garden Terrace Café for some of the prettiest views. Luckily, smog levels were low this day, so we were able to see all the way to the Pacific Ocean and beyond.
Before exploring the many exhibits, we found a shady spot at the beautiful Central Garden to eat our lunch and refuel. The Central Garden is a 134,000 square foot garden with 500 varieties of plants, making it the perfect place for a picnic and quality sista-sista time. It was so pretty and peaceful and was a great way to relax after hiking almost a mile to the entrance. Our Christmas-food-and-wine-comas were still slightly in effect so we laughed at how exhausted we were after the walk up the hill…haha, oh boy!
After lunch, we felt re-energized and were ready to take on the exhibits. The Getty Museum is home to a HUGE collection of art - mostly pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts as well as 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs. Here is an overview of the museum contents in the main pavilions, captured from the Getty’s website:
After perusing the various art exhibits in North, East and South Pavilions, we made our way to the Center for Photographs in the West Pavilion. I was excited about the photography exhibits in particular. I tend to find myself drawn to landscape and portrait photography for both personal practice and preference, but I’ve found that all mediums of photography can inspire me in different ways. My favorite photography exhibit at the Getty was Ishiuchi Miyako’s Postwar Shadows. Miyako is an incredible photographer whose exhibit focuses on gritty street photography of the complex life of postwar Japan. I was unable to take pictures of her pictures due to the museum rules, but I wish I could have because her photographs portrayed SO much real and raw emotion, even in the simplest of shots. Showcased were pictures of tiny apartments, now-closed brothels, dark back alley ways, scars on the bodies of veterans, children wandering through the streets, and so much more. The pictures were mostly in black and white and were really thought-provoking. They were obviously in stark contrast to my style and approach, but the exhibit definitely inspired me to practice my street photography skills. We shall see how I can incorporate some of the inspiration and tips I took from her work into my own!
Overall, although there were certainly wonderful highlights of this adventure, I didn’t enjoy the Getty as much as I enjoyed LACMA or the Broad. Being a twenty-something who’s fascinated by bright colors, minimalistic designs, pop culture, politics, hot topics, etc. I find myself most interested in, and impressed by, modern art. I appreciated the Getty because the collections were beautiful and I absorbed so much new information, but now that I’ve been once, I don’t feel a strong desire to go back. The Broad and LACMA, on the other hand, I could easily go back to anytime! Don’t let this opinion discourage you, though – I highly recommend any Angeleno experience the Getty if you’ve never been. It’s a Los Angeles experience that simply cannot be replicated.
Keep in mind that the Getty is open at 10:00am daily except for Monday it is closed all day. It closes daily at 5:30pm, but is open until 9:00pm on Saturday. Admission is free like I mentioned above, but keep in mind that parking is $15 per car. Get a group of friends together so you can split the cost! This is a great outing for those who are on a budget but still want to explore a Los Angeles staple. The Getty is located at 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
EXPLORE YOUR HEART OUT
L.A. is an amazing and diverse city full of culture, history, art, nature, museums, and attractions - which results in countless things to do & see - no matter your budget. Time after time I find that when you seek new adventure, you will find it!
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