I am a museum nerd. I like a nice beach as much as the next guy, but when it gets right down to it, I like a good museum a bit better. Museums don’t get sand in your butt crack, don’t insist that you reveal your pathetic body, and people rarely get sunburned while at a museum. I realize this makes me sound like I don’t like beaches, but I do and as I write about my favorite places I will include a couple beaches along the way, but not today. Today I am writing about my favorite place in LA: The Getty Museum.
LA has a few world-class museums. Yeah, that’s right, LA. The center of all things superficial and tanned has great museums. My favorite sits on top of a hillside (they would call it a mountain on the East Coast) overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the 405 freeway. It could not be more perfectly placed. It sits between everything that is wrong with LA: Traffic, cars, people, road-rage; and everything that is right about the city: the chunks of land that have not been turned into Trader Joe’s parking lots.
Getting to the Getty is a royal pain. The 405 is by far the worst freeway I have ever driven on. Instead of using the old adage “when pigs fly” people should say, “When the 405 isn’t jammed with cars traveling 20 miles per hour.” It is a horrible, horrible, horrible freeway. If you want to avoid the traffic leave around three in the morning and you should have smooth sailing, but if you insist on non-vampire hours, be prepared to get stuck in traffic.
Once arriving at the Getty there is a charge to park, but the museum itself is free. There is a large parking garage and elevators take visitors up to a tram station where they catch a ride to the museum. The ride to the top is tranquil and slow. There is no annoying Muzak on the ride to distract; it is just quiet.
The tram drops everyone off near a large courtyard and it is your job to figure out what to do next. There are the gardens, there is the art collection, there are some fantastic views of the Pacific, there is a café, and there are the courtyards made of white marble. I like to start out wandering through the gardens to get myself calmed down from the drive. The gardens are wonderful and relaxing, unless you bring your sister who is some kind of international seed stealing thief (these are personal problems that most people will not encounter.)
Then I like to check out the art collection. Mr. Getty had some cash, so he has some pretty good stuff. I am partial to the Impressionist room but so is everybody else, so getting a good long look at Van Gogh’s Irises is unlikely. There is always some couple standing in the way for far too long. There should be a five-minute maximum when standing in front of a painting. If you want to stand there longer you are a pretentious ass. Buy a poster and look at it each morning before putting your glasses on.
After the art collections, I like to find a back door and go outside. There are not very many people who find the balconies to the south of the museum, but open enough doors and you will eventually find yourself looking out over the Pacific.
For first time visitors I would suggest a three-hour visit. There are things for families to do together and enough distractions to keep even the most ADHD kids busy.
So if you are in LA and you need a break from all the chaos and noise that is LA find the Getty. It is one of my favorite places in the world.