My friend Laura invited me to her 60th birthday party at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. I always love having an excuse to go up there so of course, I said yes. We were supposed to meet in the lobby of the main museum at 4 pm and then go on a Scavenger Hunt.
The party took place on a Saturday, which meant it would be crowded because it’s a prime tourist attraction. Normal hours are 10 am – 5:30 pm but during the summer on Friday and Saturday, they have extended hours until 9 pm. As Rick Steves mentioned at the Travel Adventure Show I attended, the best time to go to a popular location is near closing time after the crowds have thinned out.
The Getty Center sits at the top of a hill
I arrived a little after 4 pm because it took me a while to park. There was a sign at the parking garage that said it was full. Cars were still going through so I stayed in line. It was a good thing I did because there were spaces available even though I had to drive around and around to the lowest level. After I parked, I got in line to ride the tram up to the complex.
The line was pretty crowded but luckily it moved fast. I love riding the tram because it gives you a striking view of the city below. However, I didn’t appreciate the “kid” who silently farted next to me. Two Japanese ladies across from me were also holding their nose, so it was a stinker.
Getting ready for our scavenger hunt
When I arrived at the museum’s lobby there were still several other party guests who hadn’t arrived yet or who were parking or standing in the tram line.
We ended up waiting almost 2 hours for them to get to the lobby before starting our scavenger hunt. Apparently, punctuality isn’t in everyone’s DNA. While I was waiting. I slipped into an exhibit of beautiful glass and decorative arts from the 1500s. Usually, glass bowls, goblets and plates don’t excite me, but this collection was exquisite. Each had intricate detail and some were Venetian glass. I was amazed that they survived intact after 500 + years.
The Getty Trust, Collections and Complexes
The Getty Center is the legacy of J.Paul Getty who founded the Getty Oil Company in 1949 and became insanely rich. When he died in 1976 his estimated wealth was approximately $6 billion, which would amount to about $30 billion today. Throughout his life, he was an ardent collector of art and antiquities.
If you saw the recent film about Getty – All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer as Getty, or the TV mini-series Trust, starring Donald Sutherland, you’d know he was a miser. Fortunately, he established the J. Paul Getty Trust in 1953 and it’s now the world’s wealthiest art institution. The Trust operates The Getty Center, The Getty Villa, The Getty Foundation, The Getty Research Institute, and The Getty Conservation Institute.
Both museum complexes are located in Los Angeles and are free to the public. Parking is $15 at The Getty Center until 3 pm and $10 afterward. In addition to several art pavilions, with extraordinary art and sculpture from all over the world, it has several restaurants, coffee carts, guided and self-guided tours, courses, lectures, party and meeting rooms. No reservations are required. The Getty Villa in Malibu houses 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities and features theatrical and musical performances but you must make reservations online as it’s a smaller complex and parking is limited.
Our Scavenger Hunt
Laura spent a day at The Getty Center during the week to plan her elaborate scavenger hunt. She put together long lists of items we were supposed to find. The complex is spread out with a beautiful garden area below which meant plenty of walking.
Our hunt was a clever way to see what was in the galleries but because several of the guests were 60 plus, two had twisted ankles, it was warm outside, and started late, no one actually finished it. Most of us only got through one page of the list (we had 3 pages) and then either pooped out or headed to the wine cart. I was one of the winos.
Dinner and cake at dusk
Most of us brought dinner in backpacks so we sat outside to eat at some outdoor tables and afterward had birthday cake.
I lingered for a while after the party to take photos as dusk began to fall.
It was an excellent way to spend a late Saturday afternoon. I’d love to sneak back up there during the week so I can take my time and look at the exhibits I missed. If you are visiting Los Angeles you don’t want to miss The Getty Center.