Destination: California: Los Angeles
Interior designer Michael S. Smith recommends:
“I like Culver City, where you can find new galleries that are really amazing. Try to go when there are new exhibits debuting. There’s also a nice food store called Surfas (8824 National Blvd; 310-559-4770; www.surfasonline.com) where professional chefs go to do their shopping. You can find gourmet items like quince jams and caviar and they also have great coffee.”
Getty Center/J. Paul Getty Museum/Getty Villa
The Westside’s very own architectural landmark is the Richard Meier–designed, travertine-clad Getty Center campus, atop a 110-acre hillside in Brentwood. It’s the home of the J. Paul Getty Trust, which administers the Getty Research and Conservation Institutes, the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Here you’ll see European paintings (including van Gogh’s Irises); selections from a vast photography collection, from Stieglitz and Man Ray to Hockney and Warhol; and inspired period rooms for decorative arts. Not into art? Then just gawk at the marvelous architecture, gardens and view. Dine at the upscale restaurant (by reservation) or the uninspired café.
The Getty Villa, about ten miles away in Malibu—reopened in 2006 after nine years of renovation. Here you’ll see the re-created Roman Villa dei Papiri (buried instantly when Mount Vesuvius erupted), gardens and all; galleries inside hold Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Eating outdoors at the delicious café with a villa view is an experience you’ll want to repeat. 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA; 310-440-7300.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA’s extensive collection ranges from its noted Islamic, Japanese and Korean holdings to European masterworks by Rembrandt, La Tour and Chardin to such contemporary canvases as (my favorite) David Hockney’s Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio. The multi-building complex underwent a serious reinvention by architect Renzo Piano, with a new solar, grand entrance pavilion and a new building, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, both major enhancements.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)
In the 1980s, as this striking building, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, was going up downtown, Frank Gehry was creating a temporary exhibition space in a warehouse and a police-car garage in nearby Little Tokyo. The “Temporary Contemporary” still exists, as the Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, and it’s long since become a vibrant, integral part of the museum. A third, smaller venue, MoCA Pacific Design Center, in West Hollywood, opened in 2001.
Norton Simon Museum
This often-overlooked gem in Pasadena houses Asian, European and American art, including tons of Degas paintings and sculptures. Frank Gehry renovated the interiors from 1996 to 1999, adding the stunning Southeast Asian and Indian galleries of red sandstone. The sculpture garden, designed by L.A. landscaping star Nancy Goslee Power, is a must. Closed Tuesday.
Petersen Automotive Museum
Car buffs and anyone who loves history should make a visit to this temple to the automobile. With more than 150 classic cars and exhibitions that highlight such topics as famous cars from Hollywood movies, there are vehicles for everyone to admire. There are race cars, vintage motorcycles, concept cars and displays on the history of the car in American life as well as on technology and design. On the third floor, an interactive gallery outlines the fundamental science behind how cars run. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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