Explore The Getty: The Best Art, Architecture and Views of Los Angeles

by | Mar 9, 2017 | California, Los Angeles: The Getty Centre Architecture and Views, United States | 4 comments

We dropped the kids and grandkids at the San Francisco airport, returned our mini-van rental, caught a flight to Los Angeles, rented a sports car and….

hit the L.A. Freeway!

L.A. is a great big freeway


Dionne Warwick won her first Grammy with this iconic California classic in 1968.

The title of the song is Do You Know the Way to San Jose? The song is about leaving L.A and finding peace of mind in San Jose:

Do you know the way to San Jose

I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose

However, Dionne Warwick would not find peace of mind in San Jose these days. We were in San Francisco for the worst rains and flooding in decades that forced the emergency evacuation of 14,000 people in San Jose. The total rainfall in the Bay Area has now surpassed the average for a full year.

Time for us to head to Southern California, because another California classic song says:

It never rains in Southern California

We decided to try our luck on the LA freeways. You need a GPS and nerves of steel to navigate the spaghetti bowl of freeways in LA. [Note to self: I do not have nerves of steel].

I took this photo of the San Diego Freeway from the rooftop bar in the Hotel Angeleno. We picked this hotel because it is near the Getty Center, our top priority for LA.

If you like any of the following, you will love The Getty:

  • art
  • architecture
  • gardens
  • parks
  • family-friendly spaces
  • city and country views
  • fine dining

In short, the Getty has something for almost everyone …. and it is all free!

It is no wonder that the Getty is one of the most popular museums in the United States.

The only cost is parking: $15.00.

You can plan your visit with the official site: The Getty

The Getty is a large campus on the top of a hill in the Santa Monica mountains, with sweeping views of Los Angeles in all directions. Parking is at the base of the hill. From there, all visitors board the monorail for a 5 minute drive up the hill.

The Getty is a 24 acre campus surrounded by 600 acres of parklands.


This is the view of the Getty Center as you step off the monorail.


The Getty Center opened in 1997 at a cost of $1.3 billion!


J. Paul Getty was an American industrialist who made his fortune in oil, worth billions when he died in 1976.

In a famous quote, he said:

The meek shall inherit the earth,

but not its mineral rights

More than 20 years before his death, he established the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Trust is the world’s wealthiest art trust. He left a large portion of his estate to the J. Paul Getty Museum. This endowment funded the construction of the Getty Center.

J. Paul Getty was good to the arts not a good family man. He married and divorced 5 times. He did not attend the funeral of his 12-year-old son who died of a brain tumor.

In 1973, Getty’s 16-year-old grandson, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped in Rome. A ransom demand for $17 million was delivered a week later. Getty refused to pay the ransom because he suspected that the kidnapping was just a ploy by his grandson to get money. The kidnapping dragged on for four months when a package was delivered to the head office of a newspaper in Rome. It contained a human ear and a threat that if the ransom was not paid, the boy would be returned “piece by piece.” Getty agreed to pay $2.2 million, the maximum amount that was tax deductible. When his grandson was finally released, his grandfather refused to talk to him.


How could someone spend tens of millions on art and not look after his family?

Before entering the main rotunda, take time to look up.


We were lucky to see the Getty on a clear day with brilliant blue skies.


This is a photo of Norman near the entrance to the Getty


Richard Meier is the architect of the Getty Center

His name has become synonymous with stone.

The stone—1.2 million square feet of it—is one of the most remarkable elements of the complex. This beige-colored, cleft-cut, textured, fossilized travertine catches the bright Southern California light, reflecting sharply during morning hours, and emitting a honeyed warmth in the afternoon.


Meier chose stone for this project because it is often associated with public architecture and expresses qualities the Getty Center celebrates: permanence, solidity, simplicity, warmth, and craftsmanship.


The 16,000 tons of travertine are from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, 15 miles east of Rome. Many of the stones revealed fossilized leaves, feathers, and branches when they were split along their natural grain. Meier and his staff worked for a year with the quarries to invent a process using a guillotine to produce the unique finish.

If you are interested in reading more about Meier and his work on the Getty, here is a link to an interview:

Richard Meier on Designing With Marble

This is the main entrance to the Getty


There is no ticket lineup: no tickets required! Just show up and enjoy!

There is room for man-spreading in the Getty rotunda


The Getty is featuring a special exhibit of drawings and sculptures of Edme Bouchardan: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment.

A sneak-peek at the exhibit is in the main atrium, where Bouchardon’s sculpture of The Sleeping Faun is on display:

The sculpture shows a naked satyr apparently sleeping off a drunken binge. His legs are provocatively splayed in what is surely Western art history’s original — and still most dramatic — example of man-spreading.


[This is a quote from a review in the Los Angeles Times of the special exhibit of Bouchardon’s drawings and sculptures, Edmé Bouchardon’s extraordinary drawings changed the way sculpture looked]

Next week, I will post more on this fabulous exhibition organized by the Getty and the Louvre.

Two dogs in a dog stroller … Is this the ultimate LA accessory?

Natural light is one of the Getty Center’s most important architectural elements. The many exterior walls of glass allow sunshine to illuminate the interiors. A computer-assisted system of louvers and shades adjusts the light indoors.

Getty Center water fountain pool for boomervoice

Water is art at the Getty


Water is an important feature at the Getty. Water becomes art when it is integrated with design.

With all the torrential rains in California, no one has to feel guilty about using water as art at the Getty.

This vista at the Getty reminds me of the water fountains in Generalife, designed a thousand years ago by the Moors in Southern Spain. Below is my photo from my visit to Generalife last year, described in an earlier post.

This photo of Generalife showcases water as a symbol of economic, social and political power

This photo shows the Getty Centre reflected in water and glass

Benches were added to the Getty Center to discourage people from wading into the pools and playing in the fountains.

Sometimes, we all just want to be kids and go play in a pool.

On a nice spring day, you can just sit on a bench and admire the views

While I was busy standing on the benches, Norman snapped a pic!

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Getty Restaurant

Fifty Shades of Green


Normally, the hills that surround Los Angeles are fifty shades of brown. But after all the rain, the hills are alive again.

Do you know the next line in the song, It Never Rains in Southern California:

It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours

Can you spot the vineyard in this photo?


When we gazed at this vista, we were surprised to see a vineyard! With a bit of research, I found the priciest vineyard in the world: Moraga Estate


Moraga Estate’s hillside vineyard is possibly the most expensive vineyard acreage in the world. Moraga is located in Bel Air, the most exclusive of Los Angeles’ wealthy enclaves.


On a recent visit to Moraga, I’m looking for the mark of the current owner, billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Three years ago, with his marriage to Wendy Deng dissolving and a romance with Mick Jagger’s ex-wife Jerry Hall budding, Murdoch bought Los Angeles’ only post-Prohibition bonded winery and 13-acre estate for $28.8 million, an impetuous purchase sparked by an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal, one of his News Corp. properties.


Moraga wines have been beloved by L.A. wine collectors since the previous owner started selling them in 1989. But the estate is private. There is no tour, no tasting room. Viewable only from the tram that takes visitors up to the sparkling white Getty Center, Moraga’s vineyards climb the steep hills overlooking the pulsing 405 Freeway.


As we tasted the wines — just as full of fruit as I remembered with the same nuance and lively acidity I love in a dinner wine — I found Murdoch’s mark. It’s the price: The red blend now carries a $185 price tag, up from $125, and the white wine is $115, up from $65.

We had some lovely and delicious California wines, but we did not pop the cork on a bottle of Moraga’s finest!

The Getty Center thoughtfully posted a map of the vista

On a clear day, the view of LA over the Cactus Garden stretches all the way to the ocean

We could see snow-capped mountains in the distance but my camera did not capture them

The Central Garden is stunning


I did not fully experience the Central Garden from this viewpoint. It was only later, when we strolled through the Garden, that I felt the peace and tranquillity that the designer intended. We spent far longer in the garden than I had anticipated because I did not want to leave it!

These rebar trees in the Central Garden were completed in 1997.

They remind me of the Supertrees in Singapore, completed in 2012.

Is there such a thing as Architectural Plagiarism?

This is a photo of me in Singapore, with the supertrees in the background. These supertrees are 16 stories high.

The super-sized trees in Singapore look remarkably like the mini-me trees in the Getty, completed 15 years earlier.

The stream in the Central Garden flows over rocks and boulders of different sizes in order to make different sounds

The stream wends its way through the Central Garden until it cascades over a pool that is framed with azalea bushes.

She said Yes!


The Central Garden is the perfect place to get engaged!


This post explored the architecture and views from the Getty Center.

Time to go inside and see the art …. next week.

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at BoomerVoice.ca
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray

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