The expansive art galleries of the Getty Center in Los Angeles sit high on a hill overlooking the 405 Freeway and the Sepulveda Pass. The complex was commissioned by billionaire J.Paul Getty to house much of his extensive art collection as well as outside exhibitions and is free to the public to visit and view.
I’ve been there several times but came this time for the birthday celebration of a friend.
The party took place on a late Saturday afternoon, which was good because weekends are crowded at the Getty Center especially during the summer.
If you want to avoid crowds travel expert Rick Steves suggests going to museums closer to closing time, and he’s right.
What a view!
I arrived a little after 4 pm because it took me a while to park. There was a sign at the parking garage that said it was full. Cars were still going through so I stayed in line. It was a good thing I did because there were spaces available even though I had to snake down to the lowest level. After I found a space, I got in line to ride the tram up to the galleries.
You have to stand in line for a while to get on, but it takes you straight up the hill to the Getty Center. On clear days, you can see the ocean.
My only complaint was that I didn’t appreciate the “kid” who silently farted next to me. Two Japanese ladies across from me were also holding their nose, so it was a stinker.
Waiting for the party to start
The birthday girl got the brilliant idea to have a scavenger hunt with all her guests and had come to the Getty Center days before to plan it out. But, before we got started, we had to wait in the lobby for everyone to arrive.
Apparently, punctuality isn’t in everyone’s DNA and we waited around for 2 hours to get started.
I decided to slip out into an exhibit of beautiful glass and decorative arts from the 1500s. Usually, glass bowls, goblets, and plates don’t excite me, but this collection was exquisite. Each was intricate in detail and some were Venetian glass. I was amazed that they survived intact after 500 + years.
The Getty Trust, Collections and Complexes
The Getty Center is the legacy of J.Paul Getty who founded the Getty Oil Company in 1949 and became insanely rich. When he died in 1976 his estimated wealth was approximately $6 billion, which would amount to about $30 billion today. Throughout his life, he was an ardent collector of art and antiquities.
The J. Paul Getty Trust was established in 1953 and it’s now the world’s wealthiest art institution. The Trust operates The Getty Center, The Getty Villa, The Getty Foundation, The Getty Research Institute, and The Getty Conservation Institute.
The Getty Center and Getty Villa are located in Los Angeles and are free to the public. Parking is $15 until 3 pm and $10 afterward. The galleries and pavilions are filled with extraordinary art and sculpture from all over the world, The complex also has several restaurants and coffee carts. It offers guided and self-guided tours, courses, and lectures, and has spaces available to rent for parties and meetings. No reservations are required.
The Getty Villa in Malibu houses 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities and features theatrical and musical performances but you must make reservations online as it’s a smaller complex and parking is limited.
Our Scavenger Hunt
After everyone finally arrived we started our scavenger hunt. We were given long lists of items we were supposed to find. The complex is spread out with a beautiful garden area below which meant plenty of walking.
In theory, the hunt was a clever way to see what was in the galleries but several of the guests were over 60, and two had twisted ankles. The weather was warm that day, and because we started late, no one checked off everything on the list. Most of us only did 1 out of the 3 pages we were handed and then either pooped out or headed to the wine cart. I was one of the winos.
Making a picnic out of it
The Getty has excellent restaurants but we were told to bring our dinner in our backpacks. Once we were ready for food and cake, we found tables and ate outside in the courtyard.
As guests started to disperse, I lingered for a while to walk the grounds.
Visiting the Getty Center is a wonderful way to spend an artful afternoon or evening in Los Angeles. They often have events and cocktail parties after dark as well. If you are visiting Los Angeles you don’t want to miss it.