The Getty Center
On the day after Christmas we visited the Getty Center, which includes an art museum, research institute, and conservation institute. However, we went primarily to see what was going on outside the buildings, not inside.
The Getty Center is a popular destination in LA, which means that it draws massive hordes of people and long lines of cars. In fact, when we first arrived they had just blocked the entrance as the parking garage had filled. We drove on for a few minutes, then returned. Fortunately the second time was the charm and we were able to get in.
Surprisingly, the campus does not feel crowded. It includes 110 acres on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains. The site faces southwest towards the ocean and the City of Los Angeles. The views are spectacular.
To reach the main garden you follow the bed of an artificial stream. The path includes switchbacks and bridges across the water.
I have to say that I was more impressed by the architecture and the overall site than I was by the gardens themselves. The way the stone catches the light and contrasts with the bright blue sky is almost mesmerizing. The buildings seem to be solid and at the same time floating like clouds.
The stone used here is called travertine. In left rough in some places but smooth in others. Or maybe the smooth surfaces were a different material? Not sure why but this variation in textures kept grabbing my attention.
Back to the garden. Eventually you come to a path that spirals down to a circular pond.
The pond contains short flowering hedges that seem to float on the water.
The central garden includes a plaza which contains some really striking and unique arbors though which bougainvillea grows.
There is also a sculpture garden nearby. I liked the views better than the sculptures.
Did I mention the views? It was a clear day (for LA) and the sky was incredibly blue.
We did go inside to see a couple of exhibits. One was an exhibit of work by the photographer Joseph Koudelka, and the other was an exhibit of art inspired by World War I (interesting but grim).
We headed home just as the sun was setting. This was our last full day in Los Angeles. I had begun to wish that we had made it a longer vacation – there were still a bunch of things I wanted to see. However, I was glad that the Getty Center was included on the list of places we were able to experience.