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.