Getty-ing out and about

Getty-ing out and about

I can honestly say that every day of work this summer has been completely different from the one before. What time I need to come in to work and what days of the week I have off has been different week to week let alone the tasks I do once I arrive. In my free time, instead of crashing I’ve tried my hardest to navigate public transport and walking in the midday heat to see other art sights and venues around LA. Here I discuss the ones I would make a priority on someone’s LA sightseeing list. It’s not all museums!

The Hammer  

The Hammer is a part of UCLA. Admission is free, just like the Getty, and they’re open till 8pm which is a big plus. It opened in 1990 and was founded by Dr Armand Hammer, an oil man (sound familiar?), partnering with UCLA in 1994. It’s a fairly small complex, particularly as several galleries have been closed, but the space is calm and boasts lots of pristine white and leafy spaces. It is a welcome escape from the adjacent Wilshire Boulevard where you can literally always hear car horns.

Grand Central Market

Grand central market is located in downtown LA and has been running since 1917. It features LOADS of vendors showcasing the different cultures and cuisines that make the LA food scene so unique. It’s a 30,000 ft. arcade and has some retail space too. It is a great venue for public programming and events. When you visit, make sure to do a couple of circuits before deciding what to eat- there’s so many options it’s a little overwhelming. Highlights for me were the juice bar and the bento box stall. The market has long hours so you can go for any meal/drink of the day.


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is regarded as the Getty’s counterpart. Founded in 1965, it is the largest art museum on the west coast. The site is huge (20 acres) as is the collection; 130,000 pieces which showcase cultures around the world as well as the specific cultural diversity of Los Angeles. There are so many different contingents to the site that you really need to spend a whole day there to take everything in. My favourite piece I saw was inspired by traditional ceramic ware from China, the kind with detailed white and blue or light pink patterns that often showed rural scenes. The piece was one such pattern projected onto a long strip of canvas. Just when you had stared at it long enough to assume it was just a still projection, a shepherdess figure who had been lounging under a tree came to life. She walked out of her painted scene, giving the impression she was walking towards the viewer (me), lifted up a gun and fired three shots straight at me. It was jarring, smart and funny, and made one think about the way we look at objects; to be studied, handled, admired. It was as if she had had enough of being stared at day in and out by tourists. I watched the looped animation about four times and it stands out amongst all the other great pieces I saw at LACMA. Just like the Getty, there is as much beauty to take in outdoors as inside the galleries. I have gone there to work on my laptop in one of their outdoor spaces because it’s just such a great environment with lots of creative people doing fun things all around!

The Last Bookstore

Also to be found in DTLA is a very hipster venue, The Last Bookstore. It is a place that is devoted to celebrating and holding on to the concept of bookstores and physical books in an age where everything is becoming digitized and Barnes and Noble is killing independent bookshops. Even if you’re not a big reader it’s a cool place to hang out or get lost in (full of nooks and crannies) and explore the second floor which features independent working artist studios.

Santa Monica Pier

If you don’t like super touristy places, it may be best to avoid the pier on a weekend. It can be super crowded and I skipped eating at any of the restaurants or going on the fair rides. That being said, it’s a great spot for a view of the coastline and beaches. It’s an iconic LA landmark because it’s been there for so long. Right by it is Muscle Beach, which is where the fitness movement apparently began. You can find old pics of the original muscle men taking part in competitions there, including Schwarzenegger.

Hollywood Bowl

My favourite concert venue has always been Edinburgh castle during the military tattoo. I love the atmosphere of being outdoors with the music. The Hollywood Bowl is actually pretty similar except that you don’t need to wear seven layers of thermals and bring hot flasks to avoid freezing to death. It’s an outdoor amphitheater kind of set into the side of the Hollywood hills with the Hollywood sign just visible behind it. The venue seats just over 17,000. Lots of big bands and solo artists have played there and music wise its an historic LA venue. Depending on the show or time of year tickets can be very reasonable too. I saw a Harry Potter movie there with the LA Philharmonic playing the soundtrack live below and it was amazing!