getty center

A Night at the Museum: The Getty Center

Living in Los Angeles provides lots of cultural opportunities. We have some wonderful museums in Southern California but with L.A. being so spread out (urban sprawl!), I don’t get to visit my favorites much as I would like. It’s been a while since my last visit to The Getty and last weekend we decided to spend the evening at The Getty Center. There are actually two Getty museums in Southern California: The Getty Villa and The Getty Center. However, Californian’s often refer to them as “the one in Malibu” or  “the one on the hill”. Sometimes someone will refer to “the one on the hill” as “the new one” even though it isn’t actually all that new. In December it celebrated its 20th year anniversary…how time flies.

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To call The Getty Center “just another museum” is an understatement. It’s a series of Italian limestone buildings (16,000 tons of limestone, to be exact) that are perched on top of a hill that offers educational activities, conducts research, as well as play host to some of the best works of art in the world. The sculptural design of the complex is an architectural photographers dream. It was designed by famed architect Richard Meier and the geometric forms of the structures are so interesting that they often provide the most amazing contrast between light and shadow. If you love architectural photography then you won’t want to leave your camera at home. And If you enjoy art and architecture as much I do and are planning a visit to L.A., then The Getty Center should be on your list of places to visit. I  highly recommend The Getty Villa also.

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We arrived in the evening thinking that the daytime crowds would have died down and that we would have the galleries all to ourselves. We were completely wrong. The second we pulled into the driveway we immediately realized that half of LA. must have had the same idea. Once parked you can either walk hike up the hill a quarter mile to reach the museum or, alternatively, board a tram that will transport you directly to the top. The parking lot was full during our visit so they allowed us to park in an area at the top of the hill that eliminated the need to take the tram. Signage literally refers to it as “Top of the Hill Parking” and is only accessible through a secured area. It’s normally reserved for Benefactor’s, VIP’s, and the like but on this day it served as overflow parking and we scored the best parking spot ever. Once you’ve figured out your parking situation and get to the top of the hill, you reach a large arrival plaza. You immediately realize that this is no ordinary museum.

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It doesn’t take long to discover amazing views in almost every direction.

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Typical Saturday evening traffic on the 405 freeway heading into L.A.

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Don’t forget to look up!

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You can easily spend a few days visiting The Getty Center if you want to experience all that it has to offer. Most people don’t have that kind of time so it is best to plan your visit to ensure you don’t miss what interests you the most. We had the intent of only staying a couple of hours to visit “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography: 1911-2011”, a temporary exhibit through October 21, 2018.

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You wouldn’t necessarily realize this from my pictures but this gallery was uncomfortably crowded. This is a wildly popular exhibit but I was just lucky enough to get a few pictures without a ton of people.

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Richard Avedon, 1950

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Louis Faurer, Negative 1972 & Print 1991

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Neil Barr, 1968

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David Seidner, 1986

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Scott Schuman (aka “The Sartorialist”), 2011

The French and Italian decorative arts galleries are my favorites in any museum and The Getty is no exception. I get nervous handwashing a glass in the kitchen sink for fear of breaking it so it always amazes me how some antique glass stays beautifully intact with no chips or cracks.

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I hope you enjoyed my post about my quick visit to The Getty Center. If you need me today, I can be found at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. I’m looking forward to seeing the lithographs of American artist Ellsworth Kelly on display through October 29, 2018.


Father’s Day is just two weeks away. Have you purchased any gifts yet for the Father’s in your life? If not, I have you covered. I recommend ditching the the concept of a traditional gift and enjoy a day out with Dad. If you are in the Southern California area how about presenting Dad with the gift of time and spend a day out visiting the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum. Boys love their toys and I would image that almost any guy would appreciate a trip to a museum that dedicates their entire collection to the car. I have personally been to the museum, albeit prior to the renovations, but I am definitely making another trip to check out the Museum’s major transformation, which reopened in December 2015.

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The Petersen Automotive Museum is a visual landmark situated at a prominent Los Angeles intersection. The building features “ribbons” of steel that evoke a sculptural feel which are backlit at night creating a beautiful glowing effect.

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The Museum is 95,000 square feet and includes 3 floors of content ensuring that there will be something for every car enthusiast to enjoy, including special exhibits such as the Rolling Sculpture exhibit (below).

Rolling Sculpture exhibit: The name says it all!

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The Rolling Sculpture exhibit includes a beautiful vintage Rolls Royce.

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Precious Metals exhibit: The “Precious Metal” exhibit features a variety of cars in shiny silver metal. Talk about wow factor!

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BMW Art Cars exhibit: I am definitely a sports car enthusiast and often joke that ” I have the need for speed”. Mr. B and I are also a BMW family so visiting the BMW Art Cars exhibit is something I want to check out. Cars on display feature the artwork of  Alexander Calder, David Hockney and Robin art cars exhibit petersen automotive museum reviving charm

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The Vault: Cars in “The Vault” are located in an underground storage facility of the Museum. The collection of cars in The Vault have never or rarely been seen by the public prior to this area becoming accessible to the public in January 2016.

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Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

If you are unable to make it in person, check out the Museum Store for gift ideas.

Vroom, Vroom……xoxo, V.

All images courtesy of the Peterson Automotive Museum by photographer David Zaitz.