Discover LA: An exploration of the Getty Center museum

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By Robert Dickson and Pablo Muñoz

Camouflaged among the LA haze, the Getty Center, located at the southern end of the Sepulveda Pass, attracts over a million visitors every year for its wide collection of ancient artwork and well-known mid-20th century artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Édouard Manet.

Admission is free for all visitors, unless one plans to visit a special exhibit.  Plan to make the trip after 4 p.m. on a Saturday; it leaves enough time to view the collections and enjoy the sunset. If paying $15 for parking isn’t appealing, public transportation is available through Metro Rapid Line 734 on weekdays, and Metro Local 234 on the weekends and holidays.

The experience begins beneath the lower tram station off of Sepulveda Blvd., where parking is located. A sculpture garden is nestled between the station and the hillside, which is a surprisingly quiet spot for relaxation following the fight off the freeway and into a parking spot below. Museum goers then ascend the hill to the promontory campus of gardens, galleries and the off-limits Getty Research Institute, where once abundant water features are now victims of statewide water cutbacks.

Highlights of the museum include Van Gogh’s famous “Irises,” postwar photography by Ishiuchi Miyako, Louis style gilded frames, and on Saturdays through Jan. 9, holiday light displays and free hot cider.

The museum accommodates a variety of artistic interests and passions, with a collection spanning multiple centuries combined with a relaxing atmosphere that should appeal to most visitors and Loyola students. Some may even appreciate the environment for studying, as loud noises and distractions are infrequent among the many tables throughout the complex. Advanced Placement (AP) Art History students can appreciate and critique pieces of art they study in class, while AP Studio Art students are given a plethora of photography opportunities in the Richard Meier-designed structures. Flash-free photography of the art within galleries is allowed in most spaces.

Snacks and beverages are available in the courtyard at the lobby level, or in the onsite cafe, although no food is allowed in the galleries. We recommend stopping for a cappuccino or latte after the sun goes down and enjoying the $1.3 billion architecture. The travertine surfaces and airy interiors of the gallery spaces nicely complement the occasionally placed modern art pieces. However, the interior architecture seems to lose its modern focus when paired with multiple gilded frames containing the works of Old Masters.

Although the Getty Center is a worthwhile destination, the 405 never fails to disappoint.

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