I step onto the tram with all the other eager visitors and am thankfully divested of the constant inner-thrum that comes along with the bustling city life I lead. The gerbil wheel that is my mind is silenced and replaced with enthusiasm for that first glimpse of travertine. The Getty Center looms unseen in the distance, only peaking into and out of view as we make our approach. It’s presence is the very definition of imposing. It’s impossibly large. Much like my anticipation of the expertly curated goodness yet to be devoured. After all, I go to the Getty like I go to any restaurant, hungry.
I ascend the stairs from the arrival plaza to the main entrance of the museum and am immediately wrapped in a glorious embrace of welcome by each curve and bend of stone. My routine is set by now so I make a b-line for the latest photography exhibit but not before graciously dropping off my laptop and picnic-laden backpack at the coat check. Though my ear buds and camera are never left behind; they are my constant companions here in my happy place.
The museum is comprised of 4 main pavilions; North, East, South & West, each offering different exhibits and types of artwork. The West is my favorite because it houses the Center for Photographs and the 19th century paintings. But I always make a point to stop by the South Pavilion to admire the lavish, antique French bed that sits proudly on display there. I like to daydream for a moment about who first slept in it, what with it’s gilded walnut, plumes of ostrich feathers lighter than air and shiny, blue silk upholstery. It’s trés fancy and whoever laid their head there must have been as well. I consider the late Karl Lagerfeld to be a pretty good barometer for the ornate and he owned this lit à polonaise before it made it’s way to the Getty. Sooo….
Shadows dance across the wide stairs and the California sunshine illuminates the too bright cityscape beyond as I make my way between pastel portraits and neoclassical sculptures. Block after block of creamy, Italian travertine, some gritty and raw edged, others smoothed and polished to perfection line the walls of each pavilion in a grid-like pattern. The result? A dichotomy between stark and beautiful, smooth and rough. It is magnificent.
Aprés floating from exhibit to exhibit in a type of trance, consuming each room, slowly and methodically I like to stop and have myself a little rest over-looking the garden. I often bring out my laptop and sit on the veranda as I do now, a glass of wine in hand, typing away as I’m flooded with inspiration. Being in the presence of artists work that spans hundreds of years does something to me that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to articulate fully. Suffice it to say I am intrigued and mesmerized, dazzled.
As I sit, different languages come at me from all directions. People from every background and culture all gathered to appreciate the talent of artists and eras gone by. There’s something communal about that that reveals itself only if you stop to take it all in. Luckily I am an expert in such circumstances as these. For me, it’s never been just about viewing the art, the Getty itself and the people who visit are an experience all on their own.
After all this time, each rendez-vous still reveals a bit more to me and we become better acquainted, the Getty and I. So I will keep coming back for the endless inspiration it provides and all the magic this special place has to offer. As I leave a restaurant so I do the Getty, only now fortified with culture, art and beauty. So much beauty.
Do you have a favorite museum, restaurant or place you can’t get enough of here in Los Angeles? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll go check it out!
– Mid-week visits are best for avoiding the crowds.
– Parking after 3pm is only $10, otherwise you’ll have to cough up the full $15 during the week, $20 on weekends. (If you visit the Getty Villa in the same day you can park for free!)
– No matter how hot it is outside I bring a light jacket because it’s chilly in the exhibits and the wind can be biting up on the hill.
– There’s a free summer concert series called Off the 405.
– Bring your headphones and your favorite playlist. (I listen to Ennio Morricone Radio on Pandora whilst perusing, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a visit to the Getty.)