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Getty Center

Museums, Art and design Westside Free
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out / Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano
The Getty
Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

Time Out says

The Getty Center reopened May 25. Free reservations are required. We had a chance to visit before reopening and it’s still very much the museum you know and love—just with a few tweaks. In most pavilions, only the main floor is open (but don’t worry, you can still head upstairs in the West Pavilion to see all of the Impressionist pieces). You’ll also typically only be able to enter on one side of a building and exit out another (the same is true for individual galleries, too), which actually makes the whole experience pretty easy to navigate. Speaking of, you’ll still reach the museum via the hill-traversing tram, which has distancing measures in place. Similar measures are in place in the designated eating and drinking areas, too. Otherwise, the gardens and architecture are still just as easy to explore and admire as ever.

Our original guide to the Getty appears below. 

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.


Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles
Price: Free admission; parking $20, after 4pm $15, after 6pm $10
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 10am–5pm
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  • Saturday December 4 2021 Free
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