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April 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES—What do kids dream about becoming?  Artists?   Time-travelers?  Explorers?  They can indulge all these fantasies and more at the Getty this summer – and it’s free. 

While the Getty offers a bevy of free family activities all year round, when school is out, the Getty’s family programming really kicks into high-gear.  From art-making workshops to hands-on gallery adventures to garden concerts, the Getty welcomes families to engage in artful and imaginative experiences together. 

Getty Center
Designed to spark the imagination, the Getty Center’s Family Art Lab is a free, flexible art-making workshop, geared for families with children ages five and up, that combines an art encounter with a hands-on art project.  This summer, Family Art Lab will focus on two themes: celebrations and nature in art.  Just in time for summer holidays like Independence Day, families will have the chance to look closely at Henri Rousseau’s A Centennial of Independence (1892) and James Ensor’s Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 (1888) and then return to a workshop table to create their own celebration collages.  Later in the summer, visitors will look at the impact of weather in two landscapes by Claude-Joseph Vernet, A Storm on a Mediterranean Port (1767) and A Calm at a Mediterranean Port (1770), and then design Vernet-inspired triaramas showcasing their own interpretations of the calm and storm.  Family Art Lab is offered in both English and Spanish on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, from July 5 through Labor Day Weekend.  “Whether regular museum goers or newcomers, Family Art Lab is designed to bring out the artist in children and adults alike and help them see things through an artist’s lens,” says Rebecca Edwards, who manages family programming at the Getty Center.

Imagination soars with the Getty Center’s Art Adventures, a one-hour gallery program that's part tour, part art lesson, and part family teamwork.  Families are invited to join a small group led by a gallery teacher, who will introduce them to artworks revolving around a theme, such as portraits or artists as storytellers.  Working as a team, families use what they see to tackle fun, hands-on drawing, writing, or drama projects.  Art Adventures is offered Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.

In August, the Getty Center offers Garden Concerts for Kids. These concerts feature performances by award-winning children’s music artists the last three weekends in August. On August 15 and 16, families will delight in the sounds of Recess Monkey, performing songs with creative energy and clever references for adults tucked into silly lyrics. On August 22 and 23, acoustic duo Trout Fishing in America brings an infectious mix of folk/pop and family music, infused with reggae, Latin, blues, jazz and classical music to the Getty. The series closes Aug. 29-30 with jumping and dancing in the kiddie mosh pit found at nearly every Justin Roberts concert.  An indie family musician, Justin Roberts, and his bandmates "The Not Ready for Naptime Players" dish out whimsically rocking music for kids and their parents.  “This is one of our most popular events for families,” says Laurel Kishi, the Getty Museum’s performing arts manager. “The beautiful Central Garden set the perfect stage for long summer days of music and family time.”

Wind up the summer with a Family Festival on Sept. 12, complementing the acclaimed exhibition of French bronzes traveling to the Getty from stops at the Louvre and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Enjoy entertainment featuring the chanteuse Jessica Fichot as well as the cosmopolitan sounds of Jean-Paul Monsché.  Dive into picturesque folktales and prepare to be awed by the imagination of giant fantastic creatures by Dragon Knight.

And of course, during the summer, families can continue to enjoy the Getty Center’s year-round family activities: the Family Room, an innovative, interactive space for discovery and learning; Family Art Stops, a half-hour, hands-on gallery tour geared for families with children age five and up; Art Detective Cards, which help families do some artful sleuthing on their own; and the GettyGuide Family Tour, an audio guide with stories, music, and sounds inspired by 19 objects in the collection ($5).

For other family-focused highlights, check out the Family Fun at the Getty brochure, available at the Museum Information Desk and the Family Cart in the Museum Courtyard, which offers ideas, tips, and clues to make every family's visit an adventure. 

Getty Villa
Can’t swing a family trip to the Mediterranean this year?  Looking for a local getaway instead? Then take a trip to the Getty Villa where families will be transported to ancient Greece and Rome for the day.  Free tickets to the Villa are required and are often available the same day online, especially on weekdays.  Each Villa general admission ticket allows an adult to bring up to three children ages 15 and under in one car.

Get a jump on summer with a Family Festival on May 31, a special day of hands-on activities and performances throughout the Villa's celebrated gardens and grounds, where kids will have the chance to “Build Rome in a Day.”  Enjoy performances featuring Greek music and dance, Musicantica’s Italian folk traditions, and Fishtank’s eclectic melodies from southeastern Europe.  We Tell Stories, a participatory theatre troupe, will bring Hercules' exploits to life through the ancient power and wisdom of storytelling. The festival’s interactive workshops will transform youngsters into the creators of their own art history, inspired by the current Villa exhibitions, Reconstructing Identity, The Getty Commodus, and Fragment to Vase.

The Getty Villa’s summer family program, ArtQuest, complements The Golden Graves of Vani—a special exhibition on view from July 16–October 5, 2009. The ancient trade center of Vani figures in Greek myth as the destination of Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.  At drop-in sessions, families can participate in The Trading Game, where they act as a family of traders, traveling to Greece, Egypt and the ancient kingdom of Colchis to trade fine goods.  At different “ports,” families can create a gold foil coin, sample and grind fine spices, and explore the production of olive oil, while learning about objects in the galleries related to goods and services traded across the ancient seas.  ArtQuest, also available in Spanish, is offered Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, from June 6 through Labor Day Weekend. 

ArtQuest also offers storytelling sessions and daily family gallery tours focused on the travels of Jason and his Argonauts. “ArtQuest aims to create an engaging and educational experience for families through a magical quest story,” says Erin Branham, who heads up family programming at the Getty Villa.

Children with a weakness for sparklers will want to get their hands on the gems on display in Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems, through Sept. 7. Okay, not the real things, but modern replicas of gems on display as well as the materials and tools used by ancient carvers are available for handling in the Reading Room adjacent to the exhibition.

And don’t miss the free activities offered this summer and year-round at the Villa: the Family Forum, an innovative space filled with hands-on activities focusing on the world of ancient Greek vases; Art Odysseys for Families, 45-minute kid-friendly guided tours through the galleries, featuring activities along the way;  Art Detective Cards, in both English and Spanish, allowing families to solve a mystery and create their own self-guided exploration of the galleries and grounds; and Family Audio Tours on the themes of Gods and Heroes, Daily Life, Animals and Mythic Creatures, and Athletes.

Families may also want to pick up a Be a Getty Villa Voyager brochure, in both English and Spanish, which offers a wealth of gallery games and creative drawing exercises. 

For more information on free family fun at the Getty Center and Getty Villa, visit

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Beth Brett

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

Visiting the Getty Center: The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm on Saturdays and for evening events throughout the week. No reservation is required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is 310-440-7305. The Getty Center is at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California.

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.