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Getty Center

  • Museums
  • Westside
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  • Recommended
  1. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  2. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  3. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  4. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  5. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out / Michael Juliano
  6. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  7. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
  8. The Getty
    Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Time Out says

Free reservations required.

What’s now called the Getty Villa served as the decades-long home for the J. Paul Getty Trust’s extensive art collection. But in 1997, the Getty Center opened. The end result is a remarkable complex of travertine and white metal-clad pavilions that houses ornate French furniture, recognizable Impressionist pieces and rotating exhibitions. Its relative inaccessibility is more than compensated for by free admission and panoramic views, from the hills and the ocean in the west all the way around to Downtown in the east.

What to see inside

Once you’ve parked at the bottom and taken the electric tram ride up the hill, one thing becomes apparent: It’s a big place, with works displayed in four permanent pavilions, an exhibition space and the adjacent Getty Research Institute. The West Pavilion’s Impressionist pieces are a perennial crowd-pleaser, particularly Van Gogh’s Irises. Across the way, the South Pavilion features French decorative arts, outdone only by the baroque room recreations in the East Pavilion. Make sure to head to that building’s upper level, where you’ll find a number of Rembrandt masterpieces. Meanwhile, the North Pavilion features art exclusively made before 1700—most exquisitely, a collection of illuminated manuscripts on the lower floor.

What to see outside

You could stroll along the Getty’s myriad courtyards, overlooks and fountains without ever stepping foot inside a gallery and still come away satisfied. The most notable destination is Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, a cascading stream that leads to a lush labyrinth of hedges and pathways—make sure to check out the modern sculpture garden just past it. The cactus garden in the southeast corner provides a postcard-perfect view of the city with a cluster of cacti in the foreground. If you’re after sunset views, post up on any of the pavilion’s westward-facing terraces (if you can see the Central Garden and the oceanfront mountains, you’re looking the right way).

Where to eat

The bustling cafe by the entrance, as well as another one near the Central Garden, should suffice for most visitors, while the Restaurant (reservations recommended) provides sit-down service for a more leisurely, luxurious meal. We’d opt for the casual offering; if you want to go with the most casual option, pack a picnic and lay out a blanket on the museum’s sloping, south-facing lawn.

Written by
Time Out editors


1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles
Free admission; parking $20, after 4pm $15, after 6pm $10
Opening hours:
Tue–Fri 10am–5:30pm, Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 10am–5:30pm; closed Mon
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What’s on

Sounds of L.A.

Catch sets from up-and-coming performers and local legends during this free music series at the Getty, which features a pair of shows from a different band each weekend. The series kicks off in January with REBOLÚ and continues in February with Los Cenzontles and Los Originarios del Plan and March with a to-be-announced act.

The Naked at the Getty Scavenger Hunt

This adults-only, nudity-hunting scavenger hunt at the Getty (held the weekend of V-Day) is a comical two-hour quest that has guests searching for answers to riddle-like questions such as: “Who painted a gal who may soon suffer a heart attack?” Answer: Bouguereau. (Eros aims an arrow at a woman’s heart in Bouguereau’s A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros.) Whoever answers the most questions correctly will pick up a medal and some bragging rights. No previous art knowledge is required. Arrive 30 minutes early to allow time to park (not included in scavenger hunt cost) and ride the tram up to the Getty.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

  • Photography

This touring photo exhibition focuses on four decades of work from Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems, who first met in Harlem in the 1970s and have remained friends ever since as each has tackled similar themes of race, power and representation through scenes rooted in the Black community.

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