Going to the Getty Museum is like visiting the home of a billionaire evil mastermind. Which makes sense, at least the billionaire part, because in 1982 it became the richest museum in the world, inheriting $1.2 billion from Getty himself (In 2011 the endowment was estimated at $5.6 billion.). At the time it was what the New York Times called a “small and mediocre collection of ancient and European art.” The museum’s windfall begged the question whether any sum of money could bring a museum coming so late to the game to a world-class standard, considering that so many of the great works of art were already claimed by other museums. Well I’m in no position to evaluate that- I’m no art expert, and I didn’t make it through the entire museum. But I can tell you it’s been lauded for its post-Renaissance decorative arts and the expanding photography selection, and complimented for its improving contemporary art collection, and I can give you a glimpse at what I saw.

To reach the Bond villain’s complex, you must first park underground and take a tram up the hill. Everything is white, which, in a pleasant surprise, serves only to provide a clean line to draw your eye to the dramatic architecture, contrasted against the background of panoramic views of the hills, ocean, and city,  instead of making it feel abrasively stark or hospital-sterile.


When you reach the top you are greeted by volunteers happy to direct you up the stairs to the visitor’s center for a map. Both are much needed, because this place is huge and the layout is not immediately apparent.


IMG_1594 IMG_1598The visitor’s center is an indoor-outdoor type room, with an entire wall open to the air. Walking through, you reach a courtyard ringed by the collection buildings.


I knew what I wanted to see, so I went straight to the West Pavilion for “Art After 1800”.

The ground floor is European sculptures and decorate arts. Here I warmed up my sophisticated art evaluation skills by thinking such cultured thoughts as,

“Damn, that’s a large vase. Or is it an urn? What the hell do you call that?”


And, “generous of this man to model on the toilet.”

IMG_1611From there I ascended and got the good stuff. Famous Degas, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Cezanne are concentrated in one room.

I was most excited to see Irises (Van Gogh). It’s always awe-inspiring to see paintings you’ve been looking at in books for years. It’s a pleasure to be able to examine them up close, see the brush stokes and all the different colors.

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Wheatstacks (Monet) was the same deal.


IMG_1624This bather has possibly never taken a bath before…


Been there.


Rouen Cathedral, Facade (Morning Affect)- Monet


More depression.


There’s been a terrible understanding. I asked for her booty on a platter.


Possibly more depression, possibly mean muggin.


From the collections there are balconies from which you can admire the view. I immediately got lost trying to return to… anything recognizable, but that’s why I grabbed the map.

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From my vantage point I spied the sunken Central Garden, which I made it my next point to investigate. 


This was a very cool set up for a ramp.

IMG_1700At garden level, I became obsessed with these flower-tree trellises.


A stream winds down through trees to drop off a waterfall into a floating maze of azaleas. 

IMG_1711IMG_1709IMG_1705  The azalea maze is ringed by specialty gardens.  A path through them continues the maze effect. IMG_1715IMG_1717IMG_1720IMG_1724  Exhausted and in need of some sustenance (chocolate chip cookies thankfully sold on site), I climbed the stream path towards the tram out. The last notable thing I must show you is this waterfall-pool thing, which I think must give me the best impression of being inside a vase that I will ever get. IMG_1739

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  1. Julie Lake June 3, 2013, 7:26 am

    Wow, this is so cool! I wish we had gone together! Miss you, Ali Sue!!

    1. ali lake June 3, 2013, 6:12 pm

      I know! We need to go do everything again together! I miss you too! Why did I ever leaveeeeee??

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