|J. Paul Getty Museum|
While working in Los Angeles I had
the pleasure of visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum. I had often driven by the
mountain redoubt where the museum was located and admired it's architectural
design. The complex of buildings designed by architect Richard Meier is called
the Getty Center and sits on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, just off
the San Diego Freeway. From the hilltop you have views of the Pacific
Ocean and the San Gabriel Mountains. It's been reported that the entire complex
was built at the cost of $1 billion. To reach the museum there is an electric
tram that leaves from the parking garage. Parking must be paid for but entrance
to the museum is free.
J. Paul Getty was a billionaire industrialist and the founder of the getty Oil Company. Though born in the United States, Getty was a great admirer of British history and culture which would result in his spending the last 24 years of his life living at Sutton Place near Guilford, England. Upon his death in 1976 he left over a half billion dollars to the museum bearing his name. The J. Paul Getty Museum is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
The main museum located at the Getty Center in Los Angeles houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The museum has not been immune to some controversy including claims that it knowingly bought looted Italian antiquities. But in this it is not alone and some sour grapes may be in play due to its profligate and seemingly unfocused spending. At his former Villa in Malibu the Trust maintains a collection dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. A recreation of a 1st century Roman country house, the Villa del Papiri at Herculaneum that was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that also struck nearby Pompeii.