Getty Center

What Can You Do with Kids at the Getty Center?

A friend asked me this recently, figuring I’d be an expert since I’ve worked here for a few years now. While I see kids and their families in action here all the time, I’d never experienced the Getty Center with them first-hand. So I asked some real experts—my colleagues with young children—and their collective advice was both imaginative and practical.

Mom and daughter enjoy one of the fountains at the Getty Center

Ride the Tram

I see it every day when I ride the tram with schoolchildren—they love the view of the 405, the houses on the hills, and the tall buildings in Westwood and beyond. And if they look hard enough and have luck on their side, they might even see a deer or two hiding among the trees.

Imagine Yourself an Aristocrat

Come see the decorative arts galleries in the South Pavilion! Kids love the period rooms, which look like an 18th-century French aristocrat’s, and the galleries filled with fancy furniture, giant clocks, and silk beds.

Run and Roll on the Garden Lawn

This is a great way to burn off excess energy, as well as a good place to chill out and enjoy some quiet time. Pack a lunch or buy a box lunch at the cafe and enjoy a picnic on the green while the kids romp and enjoy the outdoors.

Visit the Giant Bug

Yes, the giant bug! (Also known as Specimen (After Dürer) by John Baldessari.) It’s located right outside the Museum Lecture Hall; ask a friendly volunteer in a blue vest for directions.

Mix Up Your Visit

While the Getty’s galleries make for fun, there’s just as much to explore around the site. Take breaks in between your gallery explorations to enjoy the fountains, views, the garden’s zigzag path, or grab a snack at one of our cafes or coffee carts, which all have outdoor seating.

Create Your Own Scavenger Hunt

Make the paintings galleries extra entertaining by making your own scavenger hunt. Have kids look for pretty dresses, men in armor, flowers, monsters, etc. Or keep count of all the dogs or cats or horses you can find in all the paintings. Which animal had better PR and appears in more paintings? Celebrate a successful hunt with a cookie in the garden.

Here’s a tip: In the Entrance Hall, go up the stairs and start the galleries on the second floor. From there you can go all the way around the four pavilions and see the paintings in chronological order.

Strike a Pose

Have the kids pick their favorite painting in each gallery and try to emulate the subject. (I bet you can get some good photos this way.)

And of course, stop by the ever-popular Family Room. I’ve since visited it myself with my niece and nephew, and we had a great time. Here they are showing off a hand-decorated mask and playing in the tube sculpture.

A girl shows off a mask she decorated in the Getty Center's Family Room

A boy plays in the tube sculpture in the Getty Center's Family Room

There are tons of other possibilities for entertaining young children here at the Getty Center, including our do-it-yourself Art Detective Cards and our many free programs led by museum educators, including Family Art Stops, offered every Saturday.

Also check out this page in our Museum Education section with tips for having fun in the galleries.

One last thing: If you’re coming up here with your kids, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want to relive watching your kids laughing as they run across a lawn high up above the city noise.

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One Comment

  1. Deborah De Bono
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Fantastic article. So many think the only kid-fun is in the Family Room but these suggestions are a great way to add to the museum experience. I especially like the link to Exploring Art on the website.

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      Mission style or “Spanish Colonial” architecture is a California signature. San Luis Rey de Francia was founded in 1798, yet shares many of the features of Los Angeles’ Union Station. Compare with The Huntington’s capture of the station to see just how similar in line and form these buildings really are. 

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      Mission, San Luis Rey de Francia, 1880, Carleton Watkins. J. Paul Getty Museum.

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