Must-See Museums: Getty Center, Los Angeles

How much do I love the Getty Center? Let me count the ways.

My first visit was in May 1999, about 18 months after it first opened. I was entranced. It’s part museum, part gallery, and part conservation and research institution. Oil tycoon and avid art collector J. Paul Getty left a heap of money to an art trust – and what the trust has done with it is spectacular. Even if you have no interest in coming to look at the art (and I have to ask, why wouldn’t you?), you really need to visit to get a gander at the buildings. I mean, it’s got its own monorail. Need I say more?

Before you set foot inside the buildings, it’s pretty amazing. (I’ve even photographed the floor tiling!) If you get a clear day (without clouds, smog or haze), you can have a fantastic view. But mostly, I’m just wandering around, looking up at buildings.

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A trip to the Getty alos wouldn’t be complete without a wander around their gorgeous gardens. And because it’s LA, something is almost always in bloom.

Getty Center lobby

The Getty Center Lobby

And that doesn’t even cover what’s inside the building – oodles of fantastic art! On my first visit, I went through most of the collection on display, which ranged from antiquities and medieval manuscripts, to impressionist paintings. But the best (according to me) is the roomd dedicated to photography – it’s one of the few places that really pays significant attention to important fine art photography.

During my May 2016 sojourn to Los Angeles, I went to its co-exhibition (with LACMA) of Robert Mapplethorpe‘s work. It was shown alongside Sam Wagstaff’s photo collection – which includes some of the most historically significant and recognizable pieces there are. So interesting!

And just in case you needed one more reason to make it to the Getty, consider that entry is free! (Parking, however, is not.)