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The Getty Center is an exhilarating architectural achievement. To visit the Center at its transcendent hilltop location is to be lifted above the constraints of everyday life to experience architectural design at its finest, rethinking the best from the past in response to an exceptional challenge.

It is not just that the architecture of the Getty Center is the most significant achievement in the career of a distinguished architect; in many ways it is also the culmination of twentieth century high design and a symbol of societal aspirations for the future. Forging institutional order out of a complex, visionary concept, and taking advantage of a spectacular but problematic site, the officers and directors of the Getty Trust with Richard Meier and Partners have created a work of intellectual clarity and awe inspiring beauty.

The architecture requires to be seen, fully experienced again and again, while visiting the museum or attending a public lecture, on a holiday visit, while conducting research or studying the evolution of the design in situ, and while enjoying lunch at the café and stolling afterwards through the terraced gardens. The Getty Center must be explored privately, discovered in moments of delight, studied and debated with ones friends and colleagues, and deeply absorbed over a period of time.

Yet most will have to wait years to visit the Getty even once and many will never have the time or means. In its small way, this World Wide Web site attempts to make available as widely as possible enough images of sufficient quality and diversity that anyone with access to the Internet may participate to some extent in the discovery of this extraordinary place.


While the primary focus of these images is the architecture of the Getty Center, they provide also an opportunity to demonstrate the immense potential of digital images for recording and sharing information. Most of these photographs were taken during a two week period in late October-early November 1997, while I was conducting research and writing at the Getty Conservation Institute. Some days after lunch I would wander around, looking and taking occasional slides in the normal process of recording art and architecture for use in research and teaching. There was initially no thought of a web site, but as I realized what an extraordinary place this was I began to explore the possibility of making the images available on the web. Now, within little more than a month, over two hundred architectural images can be made available to a world-wide audience in time to participate in the grand opening of the Center and to see to some extent what is being discussed in the world press. I hope that these images will encourage viewers to seek out the books and articles recommended in the publications section of this web site and if possible to visit the Center itself.

My associate, Greg Haun, and I hope that those with access to larger monitors, more powerful computers and faster internet browsers, such as those increasingly available in college and university computer user centers, will explore this site on this better equipment. We have elected to put on a large number of images in order to do justice to the diversity and complexity of the Getty Center architecture, and this of course causes some computers and browsers to run too slowly for acceptable viewing. We hope that the thumbnail images and relatively small screen images will make the site available to anyone who has access to the Internet. At the same time, we are anxious to take advantage of the little-recognized ability of the Internet to transmit a much larger body of high quality color images on any subject than can normally be afforded by print publishers. Thus, any image on this site can be viewed at 1024 X 1536 resolution by anyone with interest in that image and access to the necessary technology. We should like this web site to stimulate recognition and development of high quality digital imagery, so necessary if we are to preserve and have access to the world's vast photographic record comparable to that so long available for text.

Charles Rhyne