Woody Internship at The Getty: Week 1

Friday Flights, Family Festival and Fatigued Feet

I know, I’m already super behind on my blogs, but instead of doing one massive post that encompasses the three weeks I’ve been at the Getty, I will write three and space them out over the next few days. Hopefully I can get myself caught up!

My first day at the Getty was a bit of a whirlwind breezing through the four pavilions of galleries, past Rembrandts, Degas and Van Gogh, before being swept off to meet dozens of new faces, from security officers to catering staff to the events team to custodial to visitor services and more. Danielle seems to know everyone! By the afternoon my head was swirling to keep track of names and faces, routes and abbreviations (GRI, GCI, MLH, HMW…) of parts of the Center. That evening we set up for a film screening, and I had some downtime to decompress and review things with Danielle. It was a long, jam-packed first day, but it got me really excited for the rest of my time here this summer…which was important given the two events that weekend that I would be working.

Before I go any farther, it might be best to give an overview of what my role is here at the Getty. I am interning in the Events Department, and while Danielle is official supervisor, I am shadowing everyone on the Events Team for various programs. We work with the client, who conceptualizes the program, and then we organize the logistics. Somebody has to make sure a space is unlocked, the lights are on, and the air temperature set, especially after normal Getty hours, and that someone is us. We also coordinate with our catering company, Bon Appetit, Audio-Visual, and Visitor Services, and escort guests depending on what’s needed.

Back to week 1: The weekend was set to be a crazy one. I was shadowing Tony, one of our Events Specialists who works with Public Programs, and we were putting on two of our big summer programs, Friday Flights and Family Festival. Friday Flights is a program that happens several times in the summer, where several artists are invited to the Getty to perform. This Friday we had wandering ceramic conch shell players, an avant-garde dancer, a guitarist playing with 1000 live crickets, a film screening and a musical performance by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. While all of the performances were staggered, we still had a lot of coordinating to do before and during the event. I helped out wherever I could, escorting artists to their green rooms and performance spaces, documentation (photos of crowd control, set up, concession lines, etc. for future planning), linening tables, putting up signs, and radioing Set-Up Services to help with…setting up performance spaces.

Friday Flights turned out to be a warm-up in comparison with Family Festival, a biannual all-day event that includes multiple performances and arts n crafts type activities for children and families. This one was loosely themed on the Silk Road, to go with two of our current exhibitions, “Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts” and “The Cave Temples of Dunhuang.” We had Bulgarian, Chinese and Peruvian groups set to perform music and dance, Chinese storytelling and singing bowl performances, and calligraphy, scroll-making and postcard workshops. If coordinating all this wasn’t enough though, we had to come up with a last minute rain plan. Yes, you read that right, a rain plan in California. A low-hanging cloud covered the Getty in a mist that soaked every available surface in water. So 45 minutes before we opened to the public at 10am, Tony and our programmers Laurel and Sarah figured out what to do. We ended up moving all of our stage performances to the Main Entrance Hall Rotunda and the workshops into the sides of the Hall. Somehow, we managed to pull it all together right before we opened our doors, and the day ended up being great. There was a cheerful and bustling energy in the Entrance hall that didn’t feel crowded or stuffy, and the removal of the stage meant the performers could be more interactive with the audience. And eventually we were able to move some of the later afternoon performances back outside.

The Getty is rather confusing to navigate at first, it’s all white marble (or travertine, as everyone here calls it) outside and there’s a whole set of staff routes and elevators to move around quicker that I had to memorize if I was going to be of any help to Tony. Luckily, Danielle had run through them with me before I went off on my own. If I had to pause for a moment or two in front of a bisecting hallway or a set of doors, it was to admire the view…certainly not because I was trying desperately to remember the way…And speaking of the travertine, boy, is that stuff unforgiving. After walking back and forth it for hours two days in a row, I was ready to sit down, put up my feet and never get up again. It’s harder than concrete!

But being thrown into two huge events, seeing so many talented artists and performers, on my first week was a great way to start off my summer at the Getty. I’ve always preferred learning on my feet, and by the end of the weekend, I felt at home with the site, radio lingo, and what my position here is. So if sore feet is the biggest thing I have to complain about after my first week, I think I think I’ll be okay.


  1. hccameron says:

    RT on the travertine