Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Getty Center. I spend a lot of time rationalizing why I shouldn’t go: it’s far, well okay, it’s not far but it’s on the 405 and the traffic to the Westside is always terrible and would I get back in time? Would the children behave? I can only really see one “grown up” exhibit or two and never the whole thing because museum-ing with children requires so many concessions… besides, $15 is a lot to pay for parking. Is it really worth it?
But I do it. I load up the snacks and the children, I drive out to the Westside, I brave the traffic which is never, ever as bad as it could be on the days I choose to go, I pay the parking fee, and we ride the tram up to the top of the hill, overlooking the whole basin and on to the ocean, and I apologize. I apologize to the Getty. I’m sorry, Getty. I love you, I really do. I didn’t mean all those things I said. You’re worth it. I could never be mad at you… Because as soon as I’m there I realize that all the reasons for not going are wrong and completely outweighed by all the reasons to go.
The Getty is well-designed for families without being dumbed-down. Everywhere you look there is something to enjoy: the scenery, the architecture, the gardens, the sculptures, and of course, the art collections. If you’re going with your children or with people most comfortable with a language other than English, be sure to stop at the information desk. There are booklets with scavenger hunt-style questions to encourage your younger ones to interact and think about the art, and guidebooks/maps printed in many different languages.
When with the children I have a few rules: we find the art in the kids’ booklets, we get to visit one exhibit of my choice, we see the gardens and the scupltures, and we save the children’s room for the end. They think it’s the reward for good behaviour, which it is, but it’s also a place to synthesize all they learned during the day in *finally* a hands-on environment as each mini room in the Family Room is an interactive version of work they’ve seen throughout the Getty. (brilliant!)
We always go home tired and happy; we don’t even mind the traffic on the drive home (which is never as bad as I think it’s going to be.) Admission is free so load up the car and have an uplifting day!