The Getty Center recently celebrated a fifth anniversary and has already hosted its seventh million visitor.
Our recent visit was very much overdue but we did select a perfect day. It was following a rain storm and the skies were remarkably clear. From atop its 24 acre hill in Brentwood the views in every direction were marvelous, in one direction one could look past downtown Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Mountains beyond, in the other the Pacific Ocean, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the outline of Santa Catalina Island.
A visit to the Getty Center begins with a tram ride to the summit and offers sweeping views of its own. On arrival the impact of the architecture, the Central Plaza, and the staircase that leads to the Center's buildings all offer a view of impressive grandeur.
A first visit to the Getty Center can be a bit overwhelming since there is so much to see and do.
We moved right along to the two story pavilions, there are five of them, that house the Museum's permanent collections. Having just finished reading "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" we were particularly interested in the exhibits of classic Greece and Rome.
Then we moved on to the Pavilion with paintings of the world's most famed artists--Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rembrandt as well as Monet and Renoir. By the time we had wandered through the fourteen galleries of French furniture and four l8th century paneled rooms we were ready to enjoy the beauty of the sparkling late Fall day.
Here was the Courtyard with its fountains, pools and shade trees and Garden Terrace Cafe for some light refreshment. We tarried here for some time over a cup of tea relaxing in the late Autumn sun and enjoying the serenity of it all.
The Travertine stone that paves the Arrival Plaza as well as the walls of most of the buildings was imported from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy. The same quarry was used by the Romans to build the Coliseum. The stone gives all a look of timeless permanence.
The Gardens almost require a visit of its own. A path will take you alongside a creek with its waters producing slightly different sounds as it passes over a varied stream bed. One section of the Garden recreates a desert landscape with cactus. There are 300 plant varieties in the Garden and 8,000 native oak trees surround it.
There is so much to the Center. It also houses the Research Institute with a Library that includes over 800,000 volumes that represents collections of ar and artifacts dating back to antiquity. The collection of the history of Western art is one of the finest in the world.
The Restaurant at the Getty Center features fine dining for both luncheon and dinner. The cuisine is contemporary and there is an excellent wine list and full service bar as well. It also offers one of the best views in Los Angeles. There is seating for 150 in the dining room and also an outdoor patio that seats another 75.
For less formal dining there is The Cafe which offers self-service in a casual atmosphere and most reasonable prices. Again there is both indoor and patio seating and that marvelous view that is the hallmark of the Center.
Admission is free at the Getty Center. However parking reservations are required on weekdays with a $5. fee.
For pocket change you can take Metro Bus #561 or Santa Monica Big Blue Bus #14 and not have to worry either about reservations or the $5. parking fee.
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive just off the 405 Freeway and with its dominant mountain setting hard to miss. The Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 10 a.m to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
For information on the web at www.getty.edu or 310 440-7300.
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