In between exploring the Getty Center’s indoor exhibits, head outside to visit the museum’s expansive grounds and gardens. From carefully curated gardens to eye-catching sculpture displays (there’s even a garden devoted entirely to the humble cactus), the Getty’s outdoor spaces are both gorgeous and fascinating. To enrich your exploration, download the Getty Center’s audio tour podcast.
Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden
Before hopping on the tram between the parking structure and the main part of the Getty Center, take time to explore the serene Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden. This collection of modern and contemporary sculptures was donated by the trustees of the late film producer Ray Stark and his wife, Fran, and includes sculptures like Henry Moore’s Bronze Form and Isamu Noguchi’s The Tent of Holofernes. This is also a nice spot to relax, thanks to the fountains, secluded seating areas, and skyline views.
The most popular garden at the Getty, the 134,000-square-foot Central Garden was created in 1997 by installation artist Robert Irwin. This is the perfect place to take a break, enjoy a picnic, and participate in another kind of art experience at the Getty: the more than 500 varieties of trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers are a constantly evolving exhibit that highlights the relationships between nature, experience, and design. From the tree-lined walkway to the bougainvillea arbors and a central pool, all of the plants and structures were selected to accentuate the interplay of color, light, and reflection. Be sure to make it to the garden plaza to find Irwin’s quote carved into the stone floor: “Always changing, never twice the same.”
Lower Terrace Garden
After exploring the Central Garden, head west to the Lower Terrace Garden, which overlooks the city. Especially fun for younger visitors, this garden features six sculptures, including Walking Flower, The Jousters, and the movable, wind-activated Three Squares Gyratory.
Celebrate the king of eco-friendly vegetation at the Getty Center’s South Museum Pavilion. Walk along the raised path to view dozens of cacti of different sizes, shapes, and colors that contrast with the cityscape behind them. If you’re visiting on a clear day, the view beyond the Cactus Garden may extend all the way to the Pacific Ocean.