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the garden area
Photo Credit: guyonthego

The J. Paul Getty Museum

1200 Getty Center Drive Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tue.–Fri. & Sun. 10:00am–5:30pm., Sat. 10:00am–9:00pm, closed most Mondays
310-440-7300 1 day
October 2014 All year
$10-29 Los Angeles California
Website Educational Art Museums
First review
The J. Paul Getty Museum is a huge art museum with two facilities, the Getty Center in Los Angeles and The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. The Getty Center collection includes a variety of European and American art such as paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from approximately 1,200 AD to the early 1900s. There are also manuscripts, photographs, and furnishings. The villa collection focuses on art from ancient Greece and Rome. This review covers just the Getty Center, which is a small campus containing exhibit halls, research and administration buildings, restaurants and sculpted grounds. The center opened in 1997 and was built on a 900 foot hill overlooking the 405 Highway. Views of LA are great on clear days.

The museum is named after Jean Paul Getty (1892-1976), an enormously wealthy businessman and avid art collector. Getty established the museum in 1954 based on an a collection of ancient art at his home in California. A second museum (which is the current villa) opened in 1974. After Getty died in 1976 he left over a billion dollars to the museum providing it the means to expand the collection and build new facilities. Although construction preparations began in 1984, the center was not completed till 1997. It's an iconic facility, perched on a prominent hill, visible for miles, functional yet timeless, bold but welcoming.

While the museum is free, parking costs $15, and the parking area is either a 10 minute walk or 5 minute tram ride to the main campus. Since the line for the tram was long, it was simpler just to walk to the museum. There are over 20,000 pieces in the Getty Center collection, only a fraction of which is displayed. Also, there are rotating special exhibits. A special exhibit on Rubens paintings and tapestries was being prepared at the time but was not yet open. Taking a one hour overview tour of the collection is a good choice as it will help you to get oriented and learn more about selected pieces of art. A second tour on impressionist art also was informative and worthwhile. Audio tours are available, but the live tours were better and more insightful. The paintings here were excellent in quality, varied in styles, and thoughtfully presented. While the furniture and related accessories reflected impressive craftsmanship, they were harder to relate to or enjoy, so most of those galleries were just skimmed. There is a café and a restaurant on location; after a long grueling day of trudging through many art galleries, a relaxing meal can be a nice follow-up. The grounds and gardens are also worth a stroll, however the gardens tour was quite dull and can be skipped. In addition to art, the Getty offers a wide range of presentations, performances and lectures which are listed on the center’s website. With a great collection, free tours, memorable views, and a picturesque setting, the Getty is a fine place to spend a day. If you are really into the art scene, consider spending two.
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