The J. Paul Getty Museum started from the oil millionaire's private collection and was housed for many years in a Roman-style villa in Malibu, which is now the Getty Villa.
Today's Getty Museum, designed by architect Richard Meier, occupies 750 acres of land in the Santa Monica Mountain foothills. The Getty Center includes an art collection so large it takes four exhibit pavilions to show just part of it, and the complex includes nine buildings in total.
Scenes from the Getty Museum
Getty Museum Tips
- If you have limited time to see the Getty Museum, go straight to the information desk in the main lobby for advice.
- Start your visit with the orientation film.
- Check the daily schedule for tour times to plan your day.
- If you plan to spend time inside the galleries, rent a GettyGuide audio tour. It's like having your own personal entourage of art experts along to explain things.
- The complex is large enough that it can be difficult to find others, even if you use cell phones to communicate. Pick up a map when you arrive. If your group splits up, pick a meeting place. The entry plaza near the tram stop is a good spot.
- Dining options include a full service dining room (reservations suggested), cafeteria-style dining room and an outdoor cafe serving coffee and snacks. There's also a picnic area at the lower tram station.
- Leave umbrellas at home. If it's raining, or the sun is too intense, you'll find umbrellas bins at the tram station and outside each building. Pick them up and leave them as you need to, with no worry about losing anything.
- Leave big stuff somewhere else. If it's larger than 11 x 17 x 8 inches, you'll have to check it at the entry pavilion.
- When the Getty Museum is open late on a clear day, the sunsets are beautiful. Free evening concerts, performances and lectures are also available.
- If you have questions, look for someone wearing a blue vest. They're there to help you.
- The facility is fully accessible and assistive animals are welcome. Wheelchairs are available at the lower tram entrance. Assistive listening devices are provided, but arrange ahead for sign language interpreters for public programs.
Getty Museum With Kids
You'll find this place very family-friendly, with a special Family Room, Gallery Games, storytelling and weekend family workshops. The GettyGuide also features special stops for children, and one-hour children's tours are given daily in the summer and on weekends the rest of the year.
Forget that boring shop in the main building. The Children's Bookstore is on the plaza level of the South Pavilion.
No food is allowed in galleries, but there's an exception for baby bottles.
Getty Museum Review
For me and my friends, the architecture here is a work of art so entrancing that, in more than a dozen visits, we've spent less than an hour inside the galleries. Don't be misled. The collections are impressive and include some fine pieces of art. However, for this architecture-loving writer, the buildings are more interesting than their contents.
We rate the Getty Museum 5 stars out of 5 for Richard Meier's awesome architecture, creating what we think is one of California's greatest outdoor spaces. It's one of our favorite Los Angeles places. We've heard their collections are good, too, but it's so nice outside that we're not sure we'll ever make it inside to find out.
POLL: What do you think of the Getty Museum?
- Hours: Closed Mondays and January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving1 and December 25. Sometime open late and concerts and other events may be held in the evening. Check current hours.
- Reservations: Not required
- Cost: No entry fee but there is a parking charge, which is lower for evening events.
- Location: West Los Angeles off I-405, directions below
- How Long: Allow two hours to half a day - or more
- Best Time to Visit: Any time, but especially beautiful on a clear evening
Where Is the Getty Museum Located?
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA
Getty Museum website
The Getty Museum is located just off I-405 north ofI-10 and the Sunset Boulevard exit. If you're driving, exit I-405 at the Getty Center exit and follow the signs. If the freeway is jammed (which it frequently is), Sepulveda Blvd. parallels it and it may be faster.
Automobiles pay to park, but bicycles park for free. Motorcycle parking is free for individuals, but groups of more than 15 have to pay for each space they use. Vehicles up to 12'6" can fit in the parking structure, but there is no parking for RVs, motor homes or limousines.
By public transportation, Metro Bus 761 stops at the center's main gate on Sepulveda Boulevard.
1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.