Art Market

The Getty Center has been closed due to a fire and is serving as a staging site for firefighters.

Wallace Ludel
Oct 29, 2019 5:10PM, via Los Angeles Times

Firefighters at the Getty Museum, using it as a staging area to approach the steep terrain around the landmark site during the Getty fire in Los Angeles on October 28, 2019. Photo by Bradley Bermont/ MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images.

A fire that broke out Monday morning in West Los Angeles has come close enough to the Getty Center that it has “licked the edges” of the museum’s main Brentwood campus, according to the Los Angeles Times. The L.A.Times noted that the fire threatens to encroach on the arrival platform of museum’s famous tram, which ascends the Santa Monica mountains and brings viewers from the parking lot to the museum, though officials at the Getty have confirmed that the art is safe. The fire has been dubbed the “Getty fire.”

In event of such a fire, the Getty has deemed that it’s safer to keep the art within the museum rather than evacuating it. Lisa Lapin, vice president for communications at the Getty Trust, told the L.A. Times:

The Getty is an incredibly safe place for the art. [. . .] It’s sealed and it’s secure. There are double walls. We’re very confident. The Getty Center is safe right now thanks to a combination of our fire prevention measures and the fire fight from the air. Once the sun came up, it’s been quite aggressive in terms of planes and helicopters.

The building opened to the public in 1997 and was designed by Richard Meier; its stone, steel, and cement exterior was built using travertine, a type of limestone that’s extremely fire resistant. The site was also designed with a sophisticated air filtration system to ensure that none of the artworks are harmed by pollutants kicked up by the fire. The museum is home to a 1-million-gallon reserve water tank, which it has already tapped into to irrigate the property. In 2017, the Getty Center closed as similar fires raged on the other side of the 405 Freeway, which sits at the foot of the museum.

In a blog post, Lapin noted that on Monday, “Getty Center served as a rest area for fire crews, as well as an observation area from which they directed the air attack.” The post also mentioned that fire officials were to remain on site overnight.

Both the Getty Center and its satellite Getty Villa, which resides to its west in the Pacific Palisades, remain closed for now. The iconic Eames House, one of LA’s greatest architectural destinations, was also in the Getty fire’s evacuation zone and has been forced to close.

Wallace Ludel