Behind the Scenes, Getty Center, Photographs, Film, and Video

Go Behind the Scenes with Our New Orientation Film

Many first-time visitors to the Getty Center disembark the tram at the top of the hill, take one look around, and wonder out loud, “What’s in all of these buildings?” Our new orientation film—also available in Spanish here—aims to answer that question.

Most visitors come to see the J. Paul Getty Museum, our most public face. What they may not know is there are three other unique arts institutions that call the Getty Center home, each one with its own, yet complementary, mission.

Our challenge in putting together the new orientation film, showing now in the theater in the Museum Entrance Hall, was to tell the story of the entire Getty: not just the J. Paul Getty Museum, visited by 1.2 million people a year, but also the other programs headquartered at the Getty Center.

The film takes you inside the Getty Conservation Institute, housed in the East Building, which brings together art, science, and related disciplines in its work to advance the practice of conservation throughout the world. (Think 1,000-year-old cave paintings in China). Conservation Institute professionals are part scholar, scientist, artist, and detective as they work in high-tech laboratories on-site as well as in field projects around the world.

You’ll also visit the Getty Research Institute, located in its own building across the Central Garden from the Museum. The GRI is an art history think tank and one of the largest art history libraries in the world. Its special collection is a treasure trove of artists’ letters and sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, rare books, and even optical devices. You can get a glimpse of some of these objects in the film—as well as in the exhibitions that the Research Institute mounts in its gallery.

Your final stop is a look inside the Getty Foundation, also housed in the East Building, which is the Getty’s philanthropic arm. It supports the work of scholars and conservators in more than 175 countries. Now celebrating its 25th year, the Foundation has provided grants to preserve and showcase cultural heritage on every continent around the world and right here in Los Angeles.

With interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses, the film tells these stories and includes a brief history of J. Paul Getty, an overview of the Museum and its collections, and a look at the Getty Center’s architecture. And check out the cool stop-action peek at how an exhibition comes together.

Come on out to the Getty Center and see the film in person. We may not serve popcorn or Junior Mints, but our summer exhibition, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, is a treat worth the trip. And if a trip to Los Angeles isn’t in your plans this summer—visit us through video.

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One Comment

  1. Bruce Caukin
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Los Angeles High School thanks the Getty for our February 02 visit.

    Our students enjoyed the Getty–and they are hard to please being teenagers.

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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