Driving north up the 405 in LA, one can see a big building perched high on the hill overlooking the roadway. It’s impressive by any standard and includes a number of buildings, not just one. It’s hard to miss, those white structures up there, but what is it? In Los Angeles, it could be anything… but in fact, it’s The Getty Center.
Opened in 1997 after a ten-year construction period, The Getty Center is located on 110 acres in the hills above Los Angeles. The history of J. Paul Getty’s legacy here at The Center and also at The Getty Villa located in Malibu, CA is interesting and well-worth the read (click here). (I had visited the Getty Villa several times in the early 1980s during my training as a master woodworker to view the different types and styles of furniture throughout the years but have not been back there since it reopened after major renovations in 2006.)
The Center is free, although parking is $15, and once you’ve situated your vehicle in the parking structure at the base of the hill, a computerized tram will transport you to the top. Now you’re ready to be off to roam around the complex… but first, do yourself a favor and pause just inside the main door to view the orientation film. Since it was my first visit to The Center, it helped me figure out where to go first (and second, third, and fourth) and it might help you in navigating the exhibits and grounds; it gives you an really nice overview of what’s to come in your visit.
Several tours are offered including the Architecture, the Gardens, and an Overview of the Collection, as well as a number of specific tours relating to a particular exhibition or a part of The Center. I went on the Garden Tour; the guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and entertaining, and it was a great tour of the main garden, along with the background and history of its installation.
My friends, Cyndi and Jane, and I enjoyed our day here at The Getty Center. Cyndi packed a delicious picnic lunch which we ate at a table in the shade of some trees in a quiet corner of the grounds. Along with bringing your own food, there’s a café on the grounds, as well as a gift shop.
No matter what tour you choose, or none at all, no matter what part of The Center you’re able to see in your visit (it would be difficult to see the entire place in one visit), I think spending a day at The Getty Center is a must for anyone visiting Los Angeles. My only wish is that I had visited more than once while I was in So. Cal. Ah well, it’s on my list to go again the next time I’m in that area.
Maybe next time, you’ll go with me!
Links to check out: