Weightman family header

The Getty Museum

In the hills above Westwood, Los Angeles
In the hills above Westwood, Los Angeles

Craig worked in Santa Monica in the 80's and 90's and watched the building of the Getty Museum - a real Los Getty Site PlanAngeles landmark - between 1988 and 1997. However, neither of us had visited the museum in the 10 years it has been open. It is worth more than one trip and we spend most of our first visit touring the architecture, saving most of the exhibits and a lot of the remaining grounds for multiple future visits.

After parking your car you take a tram up the spine of the hill to the top. The site is laid out along two diverging ridges and parallel to the 405 freeway. The Central Garden occupies a place in the ravine between the two ridges. On the map the red colored buildings are offices and not open to the public, but most of the rest of the areas can be visited. Multiple exhibit halls are shown in blue, radiating around a central atrium; with green representing the garden areas (naturally) and the research building is shown in yellow. Major presentation and theater shows are presented in the auditorium (orange).

The arrival plaza with Patty

The arrival plaza is your first view upon disembarking the tram from the parking lot.

Garden Terrace CafeGarden Terrace from the westUpon entering the main courtyard, you will find the Exhibition Hall on your right, with a cafe underneath looking out over the Central Garden.

Continuing down the courtyard the South and West exhibit wings are visible beyond the fountain. Looking south over the central fountain

Overlooking the Cactus Garden from the South GalleryThe Cactus GardenLooking at the courtyard from between the West and South GalleriesAt the southernmost end of the property is the Cactus Garden - representing the desert growth native to much of Southern California terrain. You can view this area, but cannot walk through it.

Walking back from the Cactus Garden, you pass between the West and South exhibition wings and look down the central courtyard from the south. Turning west you enter the Central Garden and the design feel abruptly changes. The Central GardenPatty under the bougainvilleasRichard Meier designed the site and the buildings, but Robert Irwin created the gardens and open area.

While very different, the two are complimentary and Irwin went out of his way to extend some of Meier's concepts into the edges of his garden.

Research wing from the Central Garden

To get a more complete description of the architectural aspects of this museum please visit the official website:

More pictures will be added as we return to this beautiful site, both from an architectural experience and as we become familiar with the art galleries.