Alex Vertikoff , The J. Paul Getty Museum Courtyard at dusk, 11-08-2000 AD, 120 transparency  ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust 

‘I hate museums. I hate art and I hate LA but I loved the Getty Center’ read one visitor’s review. Even a difficult to reach audience like this is smitten with this Californian gallery.  Scoring 5 (stars? coloured in circles?) from 322 reviews on trip advisor there are literally no negative reviews about this gallery, with the exception of a couple of minor complaints about the $15 car parking fee.

John Stephens, Aerial view of the Getty Center, 11-01-1997 AD, 120 transparency,Copyright Notice: ©2000 J. Paul Getty Trust 

After a visit in November 2011, it’s easy to see why. Described in Frommer’s as the ‘city’s cultural acropolis’, the dramatic pale building sits above Los Angeles in the Santa Monica hills with spectacular views across the city on smog free days.

 Marcelo Coelho,  Museum terrace and city view, 05-10-2000 AD, 35mm transparency, Copyright Notice: ©2002 J. Paul Getty Trust 

At a cost of $1 billion on completion in 1997,  it’s one of the most expensive galleries in the world and proves two things; money can buy beauty, and things turn out better when you spend more money. Thanks to one of the 20th century’s richest men, the entry is free.

John Linden, Museum entrance, 02-10-1999 AD, 4×5 in.transparency, Copyright Notice: ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust 

Designed by Pritzker prize-winning Richard Meier, a significant proportion of the building is clad in travertine stone, which was shipped by 100 boats through the Panama Canal from Rome and is the same stone that was used to build Rome’s Coliseum.

Scott Frances/Esto, South and West Pavilion terrace, 01-01-1996 AD, 4×5 in.transparency,Copyright Notice: ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust 

The entire complex is based on a 30-inch-square grid that runs from one building to the next without deviation. This dimension relates to the size of people in that it’s the average length of the human torso and Meier believes therefore that people are not overwhelmed or intimidated by this size.

Scott Frances/Esto, Entrance Pavilion Piano Curve, 01-01-1996 AD,4×5 in.transparency, Copyright Notice: ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust 

When the gallery was being planned the decision was taken to commision a sculptor, who knew nothing about gardens or landscape architecture, to design the gardens.  Despite, or perhaps because of, his lack of horticultural knowledge Robert Irwin’s gardens are a triumph, even if he needed to take a gardener around the garden centre with him to stop him buying dead plants.

Scott Frances/Esto, Exterior of the Getty Research Institute at dusk, 01-01-1996 AD, 4×5 in.transparency, Copyright Notice: ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust 

Among the collection’s highlights are Van Gogh’s Irises for which it is thought the Gallery paid $53.9 million and don’t miss the docent-led architecture and garden tours.

There are three cafes and restaurants and the food was of a good standard. Most of them have good views and terraces with outside seating to enjoy the architecture, gardens and views of LA.

Hate museums? You’ll love the Getty.