The Getty

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite places: The J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.

The Getty is Walt Disney Land for art nerds. It is a museum located in the armpit of L.A. between highways 405 and 101. Admission is free but parking is not.

When I was in graduate school, I thought of the Getty as a sort of Mt. Olympus for Art Educators. Its name came up in every class I took. It was referenced in almost every article I read. Its website was the first that I ever trafficked daily. When my little sister showed me J.Otto Seibold's picture book about the Getty Center, I literally fought the urge to steal it from her. You'd think that a real museum couldn't live up to those expectations. Well, you'd be wrong.

A monorail carries visitors out of the valley to the Santa Monica Mountains where the Getty Center perches high above the city and the Pacific Ocean. The art collection focuses on European drawings, paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts. I confess that I look elsewhere for my artistic inspiration. What I recommend is the campus itself. The architecture offers visitors a deep, beautiful breathe of air. Bright thoughtful structures engage visitors in wide open spaces. Art lovers wander the galleries and the gardens. Children play around the fountains and roll down the hills. You might find me flying a kite or picnicking on the perfectly groomed lawns. I always feel a little sad when the light starts to fade and it is time to head home. Unlike some other museums, the Getty is not a place to go; It is a place to be.

This portrait of the Getty Center was drawn for a report on fun things for students to do in L.A.

© 2009 rama hughes