The Getty Center is an amazing compound in Los Angeles. It is a research center and a house of art, ancient to contemporary. There are 4 different buildings with period rooms and floors of paintings. Then there is an immaculate garden. And did I mention its at the top of a hill that looks over Santa Monica, the Pacific Ocean, and Downtown LA. Quite fabulous, really. Oh and best bit. It's free. I asked the hotel if it was in walking distance and they replied with "people don't walk here." Well, I walked. And although the sidewalks ended every few feet and I'd have to cross the very busy street, it was definitely walkable.
The architecture alone was an astonishing work of art. I loved how the natural stone was mixed with steel and water. Mechanical perfection with organic flaws. A classic juxtaposition that is attempted quite often, but not always perfected. The Getty definitely succeeded.
A couple highlights of the collection for me included the David paintings, the photography exhibits, and the sketching room. They had a room in one of the buildings stocked with a few sculptures and paintings and drawing materials. Anyone who wants can sit and draw all day. When you're done you can keep your drawing or give it to the museum to let them hang it up. While sitting there doing a technical sketch of a bust I realized how much I miss studio classes. It was a community environment working on something we all loved. I miss it.
Los Angeles on a whole is exclusive. You have to be spectacular in some way to get into certain places, experience certain things, or fit in. Everything is so expensive, even just getting around town, that the middle class and under can't afford to live here. And if they do, they definitely don't get to enjoy the town. The Getty is the exception. It is free. They have extensive grounds open to the public and family/kid friendly exhibits and areas for activities. My experience at the Getty was the first time in LA that I have felt part of a community. Pretty darn cool. If you're in the area, it is a must.