American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
That sentence is the underlying philosophy behind the J. Paul Getty Museum and their ongoing efforts to inspire understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts.
The Getty, as it is commonly called, is perched 900 feet above Interstate 405, in the Santa Monica Mountains, just north of the city of Santa Monica in the Greater Los Angeles area, but it is easily accessed by the Getty Center Drive exit off of the 405 leading into the center's massive underground parking structure. After that, visitors are ferried up to the museum's main grounds by a tram giving guests their first glimpses of the spectacular views of the surrounding area.
The Getty opened in 1997, and the museum and its grounds are nearly as impressive as the art and artifacts they house. Designed by architect Richard Meier, the center is clad in Italian travertine, a beige stone that reflects nearly pure white in the morning sun, but takes on a honey-toned quality at sunset. The 1.2 million square feet of stone making up the walls and walkways of the Getty are also dotted with fossils of plants and shells and feathers.
But within the impressive buildings reside the true treasures of the Getty. The center's permanent collection includes thousands of pre-20th Century European paintings, drawings, sculpture and illuminated manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages and from artists such as Renoir, Bernini and Van Gogh. The center's unique architecture allows for most of its collection to be viewed by natural lighting, giving guests the opportunity to see the art as it was meant to be viewed. In addition to the center's permanent collection, the Getty also hosts several exhibitions each year, covering subjects such as photography, contemporary art and other subjects, as well as concerts during the summer months. The museum's 44,000 works of Greek and Roman art are housed in the nearby Getty Villa in Malibu, which can be visited by special reservation.
Guests have several dining choices at the Getty, ranging from a simple coffee cart in the courtyard to a full-service restaurant overlooking the center's gardens. There are also several guided and self-guided audio tours of the grounds and the museum's collections offered free of charge every day.
Admission to the Getty Center is free, however, there is a $15 per car parking fee. The center is open Tuesday through Sundays, except for certain holidays. For more information, visit the museum's website at getty.edu, or call them at 310-440-7330. Journey