Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getty Center: 9 years and up

Happy Birthday, Grandma Lou!

For Grandma's 60th birthday we went to the Getty Center for a tour and lunch at the Getty Restaurant. It was a large get together with about 25 people including my 5 little ones. I was apprehensive about walking around a more grown-up place, especially with a 2 and 4 year old in tow. But I would do anything for my mom.

They Getty has some really nifty group deals. We ended up scheduling a free 45-minute architectural tour for our party. Then we went to the restaurant for a lovely sit down meal. Since the Getty has no admission fee, we were able to spend the rest of the day touring the grounds. The architectural/garden tour was primarily outside so it was easy enough to distract the little ones off to the side while to docent spoke about the sweeping views, the trabertine and acreage. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what she talked about since I was busy keeping the kids out of ear shot. But my mother says she had a wonderful time.

Lunch was surprisingly good. I'm not an adventurous eater and we had a set menu since we were part of a group. I enjoyed the cobb salad and iced tea (any surprise about my order). The other options were chicken, fish and risotto. The children had homemade macaroni and cheese which they did not like - being children, they only like the blue box. The waiters were very accommodating to our large party and to the children. The bread was yummy and the kids enjoyed dipping their rolls into red pepper roasted potato soup.

After lunch we walked through the gardens and the zig zag path. After the tram ride to the museum this was the highlight of the day for the kids. They were able to run free through the path and roll down the hillside. The gardens were well manicured with a variety of plants.

The kids were getting pretty tired so we set off to find the Family Room. I envisioned a large room with tons of hands-on activities to make art accessible to children and to let parents take a load off. I am used to places like La Brea Tar Pits or Kidspace Museum. I was sorely disappointed. It was a smallish room with 5 highlighted pieces of art, then a little cubby to explore that artwork. One cubby was a bunch of mirrors (to imitate a collage), another was a bed to lay on, another was foam tubing to imitate rod iron sculpture, and another had blank paper masks that children could color. After 20 minutes we had exhausted the usefulness of the room and it was meltdown time. However, if you are visiting the Getty with your kids go to the Family Room first and pick up the two booklets that have facts and things to find in the gardens and sculptures. It helped keep the kids interested as we wandered around the outside. A scavenger hunt type booklet for each exhibit would be a wonderful way to include children in all of the exhibits.

Honestly, our visit went as well as it could have gone. We really only saw the outdoor spaces, 2 rooms in the East Pavillion and the family room (and 3 bathrooms), approximately 20% of the entire complex. We are definitely not the target audience. I expect our next visit will be years down the road even though the only expense is parking ($15 per car).

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