November 12, 2018

An Eerie Day at the J. Paul Getty Center Museum in Brentwood

A DayTripper Tours trip to Los Angeles’s Getty Center is always a memorable outing, but on a recent November day, it was extra memorable. A huge wildfire was burning out of control just to the north in the Malibu region. The resulting smoke in the sky made our surroundings otherworldly. Fortunately for us, the Getty Center remained open and my 45 passengers and I enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Located in Brentwood, the Center is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum and attracts 1.8 million visitors every year. The other location is the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. (The Villa WAS closed because of the fires.) The Getty Center is one of the most visited museums in the United States and one of the richest museums in the world. It is actually a campus of 24 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains above interstate 405. It sits on top of the hill 900 feet above sea level, high enough that on a clear day it is possible to see not only the Los Angeles skyline, but also the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east as well as the Pacific Ocean to the west.

The L.A. fires burning just miles away from the Getty Center made today’s DayTripper Tours extremely memorable. The smoky sky created its own kind of terrible beauty…  ~DayTripper Tour Manager Pat Brown

On this particular day, we did not see much of anything in the way of views because of the smoke. Driver Luis expertly drove us into the parking area at the bottom of the hill. From there we boarded a computer operated tram which brought us all the way to the top.  There is so much art to see at the Getty Center it’s difficult to know where to begin. The art covers European and American history from medieval times to the present. I suggested to my Daytripper Tours guests that they look over the map, find their favorite art or artist and go there first. The permanent collection is displayed throughout 4 pavilions chronologically.  The North houses the oldest art, then the East Pavilion, then the South, with the West housing the newest art. It’s in this West Pavilion where the most famous painting hangs. That is Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Irises.” The Getty purchased the painting in 1990. It had sold for $53.9 million in 1987, but when the Getty bought it they wouldn’t say how much they paid. That tells you something right there, doesn’t it? Despite the smoke outside, the Central Garden was one of the highlights. It is actually in the Getty’s permanent collection as a sculpture. It includes a bubbling stream, a floating maze of 400 azaleas, and my favorite, an arbor of steel trees covered with hot pink bougainvilleas! To diminish the fire danger each year a herd of goats is rented to clear brush on the surrounding hills! And then there are earthquakes. The Getty’s buildings are retrofitted and thought to be able to survive an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale. All too soon it was time to head back to the motorcoach. Philosopher Henry David Thoreau said “it’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” On this day we looked at some of the most beautiful artwork mankind has ever created, but what we SAW was that no matter what terrible things may be happening around us, it is still a beautiful world.

– Pat Brown
DayTripper Tour Manager
Tour: Getty Center Museum
November 10, 2018


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