Nestled on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains is the world-famous Getty Centre. The sweeping panoramic views from the centre provide a fantastic overview of downtown LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The Pacific Ocean to the west and the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains further enhance this spectacular view. Alan and I were spoilt with a rare smog free and unimpeded view that stretched as far as the eye could see.
The Centre’s surrounding natural elements inspired architect Richard Meier to design a campus that highlights both nature and culture. The 24-acre campus houses the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust and was opened to the public in December 1997.
After riding the tram from the street-level parking facility to the top of the hill, we arrived at the central plaza which features extensive Italian travertine stonework. The curved design elements and natural gardens soften the linear grid pattern created by the travertine squares. The 1.2 million square feet of travertine is one of the most remarkable elements of the complex. This beige-coloured and highly textured stone catches the bright Southern California light, reflecting sharply during morning hours and emitting a honeyed warmth in the afternoon.
Natural light is one of the Getty Centre’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. The galleries on the upper level of the the pavilions are all naturally lit, with special filters to prevent damage to the artworks
The Getty Centre is renowned for its permanent exhibitions which include pre-20th century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts; 19th and 20th century American, European and Asian photographs; and contemporary and modern sculpture.
The Getty Centre features several gardens, including the Central Garden, this evolving work of art is renowned for its beauty and tranquillity. There is also an amazing cactus garden that overlooks Los Angeles and two sculpture gardens. Walking through the garden provides an extraordinary experience of sights, sounds, and scents. A walkway crosses over a stream that winds through a variety of plants and gradually descends to a plaza, where you’ll find bougainvillea climbing through trellises. The stream cascades over a stone waterfall into a pool containing a maze of azaleas. Specialty gardens surround the pool.
With its fine art exhibitions, impressive architecture, lush gardens and spectacular city views, the Getty Centre draws 1.8 million visitors annually for educational and recreational purposes alike. Whether you’re looking to reflect in the present or rethink history the Getty Centre is sure to reignite your senses.
My visit was far too short but has given me a taste of what is on offer at this amazing museum. A perfect day at the Getty Centre ends with a breathtaking sunset that is a work of art itself.