A visit to the billion dollar art museum perched high up in the clouds above Los Angeles
27.04.2013 - 27.04.2013 22 °C
The J Paul Getty Center is the larger of two locations of the Getty Museum, the wealthiest art institution in the world. It is a $1.3 billion no expense spared campus built perched on top of a hill overlooking Los Angeles. Having parked in the underground car park next to the Interstate 405 Freeway at the foot of the hill we boarded the computer operated tram up to the Getty Center Campus. At the top we arrived at the Arrival Plaza and climbed the steps up to the rotunda shaped Museum Entrance Hall past a couple of pieces of modern art.
The Getty Museum is funded by a trust (currently worth $6 billion) set up by the oil millionaire J. Paul Getty in 1953. The Getty Center specializes mainly in pre 20th Century European art and was opened in 1997 so the collection could be more accessible to Los Angeles. The views from its location on top of a 900 feet (270 metre) hill are stunning and on a clear day you can see both Downtown LA and the Ocean.
Entry to the Center is free and it is famed as much for its architecture and gardens as for the art collection it houses. We began our visit with an Architecture Tour where we were shown the finer points of architect Richard Meier's design.
The Getty Center is a campus and in addition to the museum includes buildings for administration, conservation and research. The museum itself consists of the North, East, South, West and Exhibition Pavilions located around the central Museum Courtyard. We started off by looking around a fascinating exhibition on LA Architectural Design 1940-1990 (which unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of) but then moved on to an exhibition of medieval manuscripts which reminded me of Trinity College in Dublin.
Included amongst the paintings on display were a number of iconic paintings. These included Rembrandt's The Abduction of Europa, Van Gogh's Irises, Degas' Dancer taking a bow and Reni's Christ with the Crown of Thorns. As you moved between the rooms you could appreciate how techniques have developed over the centuries.
There was an interesting collection of paintings of Venice that came from the period in the 17th/18th centuries when it was popular for wealthy British to visit classical Italy (known as the Grand Tour), buy statutes as souvenirs and adorn their houses in what became known as the neo-classical style. In addition to paintings the art collection at the Getty Center also included many rooms full of tapestries, French antique furniture and statues.