Behind the Scenes

Sound: Let There Be (Some) Light

The next time you’re in the Getty Center galleries, look up. The large louvers in the ceiling are working throughout the day to keep light-sensitive artwork from direct sunlight.

The goal is to keep the amount of light coming in to around 20 to 25 footcandles. (One footcandle = the amount of light put out by a candle at a one-foot distance.)

These large blinds run on a motor similar to the one that operates the flaps on an aircraft. They shift about three to ten degrees every hour throughout the day.

While glass keeps the sound to a faint muffle in the galleries, you can hear it in all its glory here:

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      I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower—and a troop of tidy, happy villages please me better than the finest banditti in the world.”

      Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her sister. Elinor only laughed.

      —Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, published on October 30, 1811

      Wooded Landscape by Paulus Lieder and Landscape with a Bare Tree and a Ploughman by Leon Bonvin, The J. Paul Getty Museum; Fantastic Oak Tree in the Woods, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder, The Getty Research Institute

      10/30/14

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