Paul Getty viewed art as a civilizing influence in society, and strongly believed in making art available to the public for its education and enjoyment. He founded the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1953.
This small museum, established in his ranch house in Malibu, housed collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, 18th -century French furniture, and European paintings. Fascinated with the ancient world of the Mediterranean, he later built a Roman-style villa, modeled after the 1st-century AD Villa dei Papiri.
When most of Mr. Getty’s personal estate passed to the Trust in 1982, the Trustees sought to make a greater contribution to the visual arts through an expanded museum as well as a range of new programs.
Planning for the Getty Center began in the mid 1980s, when property in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the American architectural firm of Richard Meier & Partners was awarded the design commission.
The J. Paul Getty Museum is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Museum collects in seven distinct areas including: Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum’s goal is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the collection through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.
The Getty Center is centrally located in Los Angeles near the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405) and the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10). Take the Getty Center Drive exit from the 405 and follow the signs.
High on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains off the 405 Freeway in the
Sepulveda Pass, the 110-acre Getty Center has attracted more than 20 million visitors since opening in December 1997. Designed by architect Richard Meier, the Getty Center houses the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation.
Public areas of the campus include the Museum, a full-service restaurant, two cafes, Museum stores, and the 450-seat Harold M. Williams Auditorium. The gallery and library of the Getty Research Institute are also open to the public.
Eighty-six acres of landscaped gardens and terraces, including the Central Garden designed by artist Robert Irwin, provide sweeping views of the Los Angeles basin, the mountains, the ocean, and the surrounding 600 acres preserved in their natural state.
Admission to the Getty Center is free, and no reservations are required. Parking rates vary.
Visitors enter the Getty Center from Sepulveda Boulevard through Getty
Once they park their cars, they take a tram three-quarters of a mile to the top of the hill. Along the winding, tree-lined tram route, they can see Century City, downtown Los Angeles, Westwood, UCLA, the San Diego Freeway, and Mount St. Mary’s College. The driverless, computer operated tram ride takes about five minutes. The Getty’s trams are emission-free and glide on a cushion of air generated by electric blowers. Each of the two three-car trams has room for 100 passengers, is wheelchair accessible, and can transport as many as 1,200 passengers an hour. This is the only tram system of its kind on the West Coast of the United States.
From the Getty Center’s site in the Santa Monica Mountains, visitors can take in prominent features of the Los Angeles landscape—the Pacific Ocean, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the vast street-grid of the city. Inspired by this interplay, architect Richard Meier sought to design the modernist complex so that it highlights both nature and culture, offering framed panoramic views of the city. Clad in cleft-cut
Italian travertine and off-white, enamel-coated aluminum panels, the campus possesses a bright openness and a horizontality reminiscent of such Southern California modernists as Rudolf Schindler, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright, while its curvilinear elements may call to mind the Baroque.
Travertine, a variety of limestone, is used throughout the Center. The 1.2 million square feet used as pavement and wall cladding were quarried in Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, 15 miles east of Rome. The stone’s rough-cut effect was achieved through a guillotine process developed especially for this project. A total of 290,000 blocks weighing 16,000 tons were required for the project, most of it cut into 30-inch
squares. The stone itself is believed to have formed between 8,000 and 80,000 years ago. In the process, organic matter—leaves, branches, fish, even a deer antler—was trapped in the rock. The fossilized remains are visible today on many of the rough-cut wall tiles.
Robert Irwin’s 134,000-squarefoot Central Garden was commissioned by the Getty Trust as a work of art. The garden offers visitors constantly changing experiences determined by the weather, the hour of day, the time of year, and the use of seasonal plants. An inviting, tree-lined walkway zigzags across a stream and gradually descends to a plaza where bougainvillea arbors provide scale and a sense of intimacy. The stream culminates in a cascade of water over a stone waterfall or “chadar,” into a pool in which a maze of azaleas appears to float. Around the pool is a series of specialty gardens. All of the foliage and elements of the garden have been selected to accentuate the interplay of light, color, and reflection. While Irwin’s plan for the garden sprang from the powerful, controlled geometries of the architecture and from the site itself, he conceived the garden as a conditional work of art. In contrast to the more static nature of the buildings, the Central Garden is always in flux.
Five two-story pavilions, clustered around an open courtyard, house changing exhibitions and the J. Paul Getty Museum’s expanding permanent collections of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century photographs gathered internationally. Gallery talks, lectures, films, concerts, lively family programs,
interactive media, and art demonstrations all enrich the visitor experience of the collection. Visitors can obtain free audio guides, pick up a map, and view a 10-minute orientation film in the Museum’s entrance hall. Maps and audio guides are available in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, Japanese, and Russian, in addition to English.
The Getty Research Institute
The Research Institute, on the southwest side of the campus, houses a gallery and Research Library that are also open to the public. The recently expanded gallery offers changing exhibitions that highlight the GRI’s priceless special collections, consisting of rare archival materials from all major areas of art history, with
significant holdings in 19th- and 20th-century materials. The Research 4 Library is the largest art and architectural research library in the world, visited by scholars from all over the world. The Library’s online catalog is accessible through https://www.getty.edu/gri
The Getty Store
The Getty Store offers a broad selection of books on art, architecture, art education, cultural studies, history, and regional topics, including a comprehensive selection of Getty Publications. The Store also offers gifts, apparel, stationery, and jewelry, children’s items and unique and unusual items for the home, including hand-blown glass and sculptural reproductions.
The Getty Store has several locations at the Getty Center. The Main Store is found just inside the Museum Entrance Hall and offers the widest selection. The Children’s Shop in the West Pavilion (Plaza Level) provides a broader selection of books, art and activity kits, toys, games, and other fun, educational items for children and families—as well as the young at heart.
The Center for Photographs Shop in the West Pavilion (Terrace/L2 Level) offers photography related books and gifts, including frames, apparel, and specialty cameras. The West Pavilion Plaza Shop features our most popular items in addition to a selection related to changing exhibitions in the adjacent galleries, while the Exhibition Pavilion Shop and Getty Research Institute Shop also offer books and
merchandise that complements special exhibitions.
Visitors to the Getty Center enjoy a number of dining options, both indoors and out, with a range of menus and prices:
- The Cafe offers a wide variety of hot and cold entrees including international cuisine, grill items, seafood, special salads, pizza and sandwiches in a casual setting. The Cafe also features soft drinks, beer and wine. Visitors may dine in the 265-seat dining room or outdoors on the arbor terrace with views of the mountains and ocean.
- Featuring one of the best views in Los Angeles, the Restaurant at the Getty Center offers a fine dining menu for lunch and Saturday night dinner in a simple yet elegant setting. The Restaurant’s chefs focus on using the freshest and best ingredients and presenting them beautifully and tastefully. A distinctive wine list and full bar are also available. The 150-seat dining room features Taste, a large mixed-media installation by Los Angeles-based artist Alexis Smith. Reservations are recommended for the Restaurant.
- The Garden Terrace Cafe offers a quick option for visitors to eat a casual meal outdoors. Overlooking the Central Garden, diners can enjoy sandwiches, salads, soup, desserts, soft
- drinks, and beer and wine.
- Food and beverage carts are located in the Museum courtyard and near the main stairs, serving espresso drinks, coffee, tea, soft drinks, juice, wine, beer, sandwiches, salads, soups, and snacks Picnics. Visitors may bring their own picnics, which they can enjoy in a picnic-table area at the lower tram plaza or on the lawn near the Central Garden, or they may prefer to buy a convenient take-out lunch from the Cafe or food carts to eat on the many terraces and courtyards.
Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
This museum houses Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities and offers research opportunities for lovers of classical antiquities. Those interested in archaeology and comparative ancient cultures will also get their money’s worth here. The still classically inspired interior impresses the visitor with mosaic and terrazzo floors, coffered ceilings, colorful plastered walls and sculptures made of wood and bronze.
The Getty Villa offers an incomparable setting for the study and enjoyment of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The Villa weaves together art, performances, family activities, lectures, theater, scholarship, conservation, and
other activities to create an integrated educational and cultural experience for all ages, serving as a gateway to the classical past for students, scholars, specialized professionals, and general audiences.
Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. An advance, timed ticket is required and can be obtained online at www.getty.edu.
Parking rates vary.
Bordered by coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Villa vividly evokes the classical world in both its landscape and architecture. Modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a first- century Roman country house, the Villa is an airy, sunlit, environment, featuring mosaic floors and colorful trompe l’oeil walls and paintings. Its four gardens and grounds are planted with species known from the ancient Mediterranean, creating lush and fragrant places to stroll.
The Getty Villa houses the J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, which comprises about 44,000 objects. More than 1,300 of them are on view in 27 galleries devoted to the permanent collection and organized to follow the historical development of classical art from the Neolithic Period through the late Roman Empire (ca. 3000 B.C.-A.D. 600). An additional six galleries present changing exhibitions, often featuring works from other national and international institutions. The Family Forum features hands-on activities that encourage shared learning and discovery for children. Complementing the exhibitions and installations at the Getty Villa are a wide variety of public programs.
They include an annual outdoor theater production in a dramatic 450-seat outdoor classical theater based on ancient prototypes, staged play readings, musical performances, film 2 screenings, Family Festivals, artist demonstrations, lectures, workshops, and gallery and studio courses.
In addition to the public performances and exhibitions, the Getty Villa hosts a range of scholarly activities fueled by the presence of the antiquities collection and the resources of the Getty Research Library at the Villa, with a capacity of about 20,000 volumes related to the ancient world.
The Getty Villa features four gardens that blend Roman architecture with open air spaces and Mediterranean plants.
In ancient times, gardens served both practical and aesthetic purposes at Roman country homes. They let fresh air and light enter the home, and also acted as gathering places to have conversations or to escape the heat.
About 300 varieties of plants are used in the landscaping of the Getty Villa, many of which can also be found in the Mediterranean region. Visitors can stroll the gardens at their leisure or take guided tours offered multiple times daily.
Address Getty Villa, Malibu
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California 90272