Subject: Re: What attracts you to museums? Which is your favorite?
This is interesting, because I went to a museum this weekend that I've been wanting to visit for a long time, but really wasn't in a hurry to do so. Mainly a museum attracts me because of its contents and its aesthetics. I also prefer museums with lovely gardens. Well, this museum had everything, and it's practically in my own backyard! I'm talking about the Getty near Los Angeles. Yes, that's where we had a GTG today - one that Mark May organized. I had to talk my daughter into going with me, as she wasn't sure about this museum. She decided we would make a weekend of it, and she reserved us a room at the nearby Holiday Inn.

We arrived in the early evening yesterday and decided to go check out the museum and have dinner there as there was nothing else to do. We still had a couple of hours of daylight, and when we got to the top of the hill on the tram they provide, we were astonished. It was nothing like either of us had expected. The architecture is very modern, but the facades of the buildings are made with centuries-old marble from a quarry in Rome. That was the beginning of the surprises. There was a beautiful view overlooking the hills and the ocean in the distance; flowers abounded; beautiful trees and gardens; waterfalls; etc. This was even before we went inside. Since we didn't have much time (after eating) before the museum closed at 9 p.m., we decided to just visit the Bookstore, the museum's gift shop, as we knew we would be back today. The gift shop was large and well-stocked, and I bought a book on Michelangelo for my son.

As I was browsing, Michelle came over to me with some post cards and asked me if I knew what they were of. As I glanced at them, I said, "Versailles!" She said she had thought that at first, too, but that they were of rooms at the museum -- exhibitions of 17th and 18th century French furnishings! Well, I made that a must for today, and they didn't disappoint. Not as lavish as Versailles, of course, but very close -- beautiful paintings, cabinets, ceramics, statues, and furniture. There even was a beautiful bed from the late 18th century that looked like it belonged in a palace. And, there was a beautifully thickly upholstered footstool from Marie Antoinette's salon! And, as we were leaving, there we saw a bigger-than-lifesize statue of Marcus Aurelius. Besides walking around the grounds, this is all we had time for, as we had stayed so long at the GTG. The conversation was so good that we postponed our 2:30 p.m. garden tour to the 3:30 one. 3:30 came and passed, and we said the heck with it -- the gardens will always be there, but not the good company. We thoroughly enjoyed talking with Mark, Maxine (and husband Steve), and Richard and Lidia. We had so much to talk about, and time flew by so quickly. We're planning on having another GTG in the near future.

Mark mentioned the Getty has a $4 billion endowment, and with millions of dollars of interest each year, they are required to keep adding to their collection. If any of you saw the movie, "Le Divorce," set in Paris, you will remember the valuable family painting that was put on auction after the family contacted the Getty for an evaluation and price. They didn't know the value of it then until a representative from the Getty went to Paris and said it was authentic and put a value of several million dollars on it. The family then decided to put it up for auction. Sotheby's and other galleries were very interested, as well as Getty. Well, in the movie Getty just barely lost to Sotheby's. This is the quality of the collection at the Getty.

There are 3 places to eat at the Getty -- 2 cafes and a nice restaurant. We ate last night in the large cafeteria-style cafe, the same one where we had our GTG today. The food is excellent. In fact, everything at the Getty is first class. I put oil and vinegar on my sandwich today, and it was a good olive oil, and the vinegar was balsamic.

A good museum is one that calls you back, and this one certainly does. I can't even begin to list the extent of their collections -- in just about any genre you can think of. Michelle went to the Louvre in Paris last year, and she feels the Getty is close to being the same size. From being reluctant to go there, she now is a big fan, and we definitely will be making more trips there from San Diego -- a very worthwhile 2-hour drive.

Diana San Diego, California