Dramatically implanted into the side of the Santa Monica Mountains 10 miles west of Hollywood in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles majestically stands the J. Paul Getty Museum. Occupying a vast expanse of grounds, with five two story pavilions, the museum maintains a collection of western art from the Middle Ages all the way to the present. In addition the the museum has breathtaking views of all of Los Angeles, beautiful tranquil gardens and variety of other exhibits that educate and inspire.
Admission to the Getty Center is free, although there is a $15 parking charge. Upon entering the Getty Center at the base of the mountain, you will be greeted by lush, green Roman like Gardens and architecture attached to the main visitor parking structure. It is from here that you will depart the visitor center for the Getty Center via a five minute tram ride. An exciting attraction in its own right, the tram ride at the Getty Center takes a steep ascent along the side of the Santa Monica Mountains giving you unobstructed views of the busy 405 below and greater Los Angeles beyond. The tram arrives in the heart of the Getty Center at the top.
Upon arriving at the Getty Center and stepping off the tram the main entrance is a white oasis of granite and marble and lush bright fountains that run down the middle of the pathways leading guests through the main doors. An information section in the lobby guides guests on what and where the latest exhibits are. There is a small screening room that runs a movie loop giving an overview of The Getty Center and all there is to see.
Seeing everything The Getty Center has to offer can easily take the entire day. The Getty Center consists of five two story pavilions constructed around an open courtyard. The Museum hosts exhibits that are both permanent and temporary. Some of the highlights of the Getty's permanent collections include masterpieces such as Cezanne's Young Italian Woman Leaning on Her Elbow and van Gogh's Irisis. In addition there are paintings by Monet and Renoir, Tiepolo, Fragonard. There are also drawings by Michelangelo, Leonardo and Rapheal.The Getty Center also houses one of the world's preeminent collections of housing works and photographs dating back to 1839.
The breathtaking views of all of Los Angeles aside, one of the must see, time investments of a Getty Center visit is the Central Garden. Designed by landscape architect Laurie Olin in collaboration with Richard Meier, the Central Garden is a vast open area that is at the south bottom foot of the museum.The Central Garden is an open area of beautiful lawns, fountains, streams, colorful flowers, trees and plants. Some of the must see features of the Central Garden is the Flowering Maze. Located at a stone waterfall, where wall from a stream winding from the Getty's five pavilions and culminating into the waterfall over a stepped stone wall and into a reflecting pool that is surrounded on all sides by over 400 azalea plants. In the perimeter of this pool area are several specialty gardens that are are strategically planted to take advantage of light, colors and reflection.
To the east of the Central Garden is an area known as Warm and Cool. This is where the South Promontory is located and there is a recreation of a desert landscape. The garden is planted in such a way that the plants are grouped in areas by which are cooler or hotter than the other areas. Through this process there is an array of spectacular colors and blends amongst the different desert plants. The way to view the Warm and Cool exhibit is from one of the main vertical decks that are straight back from the entrance as arrive at the Getty Center.
Getting to The Getty Center
Getting to the Getty Center is very easy and accessible. The Getty Center is located off of the 405 Freeway at the Getty Center Drive Exit. Admission to the Getty Center is free although there is a $15 parking fee if you bring your own automobile. Visitors traveling from Hollywood can take La Brea Blvd south from Hollywood Blvd to Sunset and follow Sunset to the 405. Follow signs to 405 north and take ramp down to Sepulveda. Follow Sepulveda Blvd to Getty Center Drive, make left onto Getty Center Drive.