Day 3: The Getty
Welcome to day 3 of my Los Angeles 4 Day Itinerary! Today I explore the artistic heritage of oilman J. Paul Getty.
The J. Paul Getty Museum
The Getty Museum, also known as the Getty, comprises two facilities: The Getty Center and The Getty Villa. It is the result of a life-long passion of art collecting and an interest in passing this legacy onto future generations. Getty’s gift of over $600 million dollars upon his death helped establish the museum and made it the world’s wealthiest art institution.
J. Paul Getty was a shrewd businessman and notoriously frugal. He famously wouldn’t offer more money for ransom than was tax deductible when his grandson was kidnapped and had his ear cut off. His fortune, $2 billion at the time of his death in 1976, was made mostly in the oil business. Investing frugally in the Great Depression, he gobbled up oil companies and eventually learned Arabic to further his expansion into the Middle East.
Think of the man what you will, his cultural and artistic legacy is remarkable. The Getty Museum houses over 44,000 works of art and receives over 1.3 million visitors annually. The Museum’s Research Institute and Foundation work to preserve cultural awareness of art while awarding thousands of grants to further art appreciation and advance conservation.
Tip: Both museums are free but you will have to pay $15 for parking. If you attend both museums on the same day you can use your parking pass for both.
The Getty Center
The Center offers a breathtaking view of downtown, spectacular gardens and a 134,000 square foot garden. The artwork is expansive, ranging from pre 20th century European painting, to sculpture and 20th century photography. You could easily spend all day here but if you love ancient art you want to save time for the Villa.
The Central Gardens are worth a trip to the Getty Center in themselves. Even if you don’t step foot inside the museum the gardens can keep you entertained for hours. Completed by Robert Irwin in 1996 he said the Central Garden “is a sculpture in the form of a garden, which aims to be art.” Walk through the herb garden, lounge on the expansive lush green lawn and make a wish in their maze-like floating gardens made of azaleas. More than 500 varieties of plants are used in the gardens including the beautiful flowers in the Bougainvillea Arbor.
Tip: Be sure to get a receipt for your parking by going to parking garage near tram terminal.
The Getty Villa
Imagine you are in an ancient Roman country house as you walk around the Villa. Modeled after the Villa dei Papyri in Herculaneum thought to be the home of the wealthy father-in-law of Julius Caesar, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesonius. Ironically the architectural floorplan of the house was left largely intact when it was covered by volcanic debris during the famous A.D. 79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that also buried Pompeii.
The Getty Villa houses the museum’s collection of art from ancient Greece, Rome and Eturia ranging from 6,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. The collection consists of over 44,000 individual works of art, of which about 1,200 of them are on display.
Tip: The Getty Villa is free but you will need to make a reservation before you visit. The website says you need to print your reservation but a copy on your phone works just fine.