The Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California, is a campus of the Getty Museum and other programs of the Getty Trust. The $1.3 billion Center opened to the public on December 16, 1997 and is well known for its architecture, gardens, and views overlooking Los Angeles. The Center sits atop a hill connected to a visitors’ parking garage at the bottom of the hill by a three-car, cable-pulled hovertrain funicular.
The Center branch of the Museum features pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs. In addition, the Museum’s collection at the Center includes outdoor sculpture displayed on terraces and in gardens and the large Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin.
Originally, the Getty Museum started in J. Paul Getty’s house located in Pacific Palisades in 1954. He expanded the house with a museum wing. In the 1970s, Getty built a replica of an Italian villa on his home’s property to better house his collection, which opened in 1974. After Getty’s death in 1976, the entire property was turned over to the Getty Trust for museum purposes.
The Garden: The 134,000-square-foot (12,400 m2) Central Garden at the Getty Center is the work of artist Robert Irwin. Planning for the garden began in 1992, construction started in 1996, and the garden was completed in December 1997.
Irwin was quoted as saying that the Central Garden “is a sculpture in the form of a garden, which aims to be art.” Water plays a major role in the garden. A fountain near the restaurant flows toward the garden and appears to fall into a grotto on the north garden wall. The resulting stream then flows down the hillside into the azalea pool. The designers placed rocks and boulders of varying size in the stream bed to vary the sounds from the flowing water. A tree-lined stream descends to a plaza, while the walkway criss-crosses the stream, which continues through the plaza, and goes over a stone waterfall into a round pool. A maze of azaleas floats in the pool, around which is a series of specialty gardens. More than 500 varieties of plant material are used for the Central Garden, but the selection is “always changing, never twice the same”.
After the original design, an outdoor sculpture garden, called the “Lower Terrace Garden” was added in 2007 on the west side of the central garden just below the scholar’s wing of the GRI building.
Personal Experience: If you are an art-lover then this is an obvious must-visit spot. This is like Balboa’s art museum on steroids. Endless halls and rooms of exquisite artwork and a beautiful garden to boot! All the white marble reflects the sun making it incredibly bright and hot. They offer umbrellas for protection from the sun which I thought was nice.
The view is gorgeous! Smog and all: