The cubic white façade looks like a modern Mount Olympus from the 101 Freeway. But it’s not a haven for the gods—even though much of the European art within the Getty Museum’s wings do depict the Grecian and Roman deities in the brushstrokes of the Renaissance masters.
When I lived in LA, The Getty Museum was my safe haven after a long day of classes in grad school. I’d venture there at least twice a month on days off from Entertainment Weekly of ABC7 LA. If the well of inspiration drained, one look at resplendent tapestries, embroidered with scenes of royalty in gondolas would conjure creativity. A study of a medieval manuscript covered in calligraphy and an illumination of the Goddess of Fortune would bring light to all of the unwritten stories in my head.
When the pandemic hit, it was the first time since I’d been a frequent visitor of the pearly white museum with travertine floors more iconic than the yellow brick road, closed its paradise for over a year. Within that time, I moved out of Los Angeles, going into the city mid-week, AKA my weekend from on-camera reporting, but I hadn’t taken the chance to visit my old favorite, the Getty since they reopened a few months ago. Getting back to the Getty was a homecoming in a way, and I was beyond homesick. That’s why when my blogger bestie Mari suggested the museum for our next visit, I was elated, excited, but apparently, not expeditious… The plan was to arrive to Mari’s place early enough to pick her up after work and make our 3:00 p.m. ticket reservation (during this pandemic, ticket reservations for visiting the Getty are now a thing) Alas, we arrived at the fashionably late hour of 4:00 p.m., I in a fitted Zara jumpsuit the color of a brook with a buttery brown belt and sandals to match.
Despite going through an entire day at work, Mari was ready, 2:30 p.m. on-the-dot in her monogrammed shirt, Gucci belt and flared jeans. I arrived at 3:30 p.m. In my defense, I had a two-hour drive ahead of me with a stop to make along the way, and perhaps I had not properly calculated how long it would take to curl my hair into place, fill Maximus (my white steed of a car) up with fuel, and wade through traffic along the Grapevine. Thankfully, Mari was completely understanding, and said we’d make the most of whatever time we’d have at the artsy oasis, which was only an hour. So without further ado, here is how we made the most of our sixty minutes at the Getty, and how you can too, if your trip is a mere pitstop.
Why Arriving at 4:00 p.m. May Not Be As Bad as You Think: Yes, arriving shortly before the close at a museum with eight extensive exhibitions may seem like poor planning on your part. Especially out-of-towners may think this isn’t the best idea, but hear me out: When you come to Los Angeles for a day trip, you may want to get a sample of as many places as you can before heading home, so after spending a day window-shopping in Beverly Hills’ Taschen bookstore and dining at Croft Alley (A personal favorite of mine for a cuppuccino and avocado toast) you can dip into the Getty for about an hour, rather than spending the entire day at a place with not as many dining options. Granted, I have spent an entire day at the Getty before and am a nerd like that, but most days, I’ll go to a museum for a couple hours at most anyway. Plus, going as late as we did, Mari and I experienced something we never had before: a practically private tram ride. We lounged across multiple seats, unused to the quiet on the Getty’s crucial transportation device, allowing us to spread out and get lost in the Tram’s benevolent tunes reminiscent of Disneyland’s Monorail. The music became the soundtrack of our ride as the panoramic windows showcased the 101 freeway from a bird’s eye view. Perhaps that’s why the winged wanderers do not tire of their flights: it’s extremely peaceful up there. When this metal dragon arrived at its sky-high perch around 4:10 p.m., that’s when most museum goers made their mass exodus to the descending tram. We beat the rush of tourists, most art rooms quite empty on the latter half of a Tuesday. Plus there was a point where the Getty actually offered half-priced parking (ten instead of 20 dollars!) if you came at 4:00 p.m., but they have discontinued that since reopening. When and if it comes back though, your pocket is going to thank you for showing up late too!
We Knew Our Favorite Spots Ahead of Time: Mari and I are art buffs, to be sure so we navigated those rooms like pros. She has an extensive background of technique and art history, an interest fueled by a mother who is an artist. My love for art also ingrained in me from childhood flourished after studying abroad in London and taking humanities classes in the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and British Museum. My professor was an art historian who frequently lent her expertise to the BBC. In a transportive British accent, she taught us about European painting techniques like hierarchy of size, linear perspective, intentionality of light and how the literal anatomy of human depicted in the art could tell you when it was composed, and which master painted it. Mari and I are both fans of European art from 1600-1800, whether the Italian and British Renaissance or British Enlightenment (Peter Paul Reubens and Joseph Mallord William Turner, anyone?).
Another personal favorite of mine is the wing with all the French Rococo paintings. It’s the most unique part of the whole museum (which is saying a lot, because these rooms house priceless, one-of-a-kind pieces), because rather than art mounted to stark white walls, they’re extra ornaments to elaborately decorated rooms with colored damask wallpaper, gaudily gilded furniture with splashy gold reminders that King Louis XIV was the sun king, and elaborate china. If you are not familiar with the Getty, it may be helpful to browse their current exhibitions online so you have a game plan for what you want to see in the short visit.
We Dressed the Part: I’ve made the mistake once before of sporting Gucci loafer heels with pearl detailing to the museum because they were “quite comfortable,” only to realize that a certain amount of time going up and down the Getty’s travertine steps and eventually missing the last tram and having to physically walk downhill to my car, can make them otherwise. That’s when I was still pretty green at the Getty. By now, I knew better: wear something chic yet comfortable. Polished leather sandals were the way to go, as was this jumpsuit made of cotton. With it’s puffy princess sleeve and a ruched neckline, was incredibly flattering to my natural curves yet felt like sleepwear. Paired with my go-to pearl earrings with a gold rim, a red lip and my Louis Vuitton purse with an Italian silks scarf tied onto It, I had achieved the off-duty look I was hoping to.
We concluded the night with a tacos and beer at Mari and Anton’s favorite place in Ventura. You see, that’s why we’re close: we can do refined artsy things the early part of the day, and conclude with a no-fuss meal. My kind of perfect day, even with a late start.
What’s your favorite museum and why?
Keeping it Krischic,