The art collections of los angeles

The Getty & its companions

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Tuesday 7 - Tuesday 14 November 2017 (8 Days)



Opportunity to enjoy the remarkable collections at both the Getty Centre & the Getty Villa

Visit to Pasadena & the stunning Huntington collection & gardens

Private visits to houses & gardens in Bel Air & Hollywood

LA architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry 

Well-located historic Downtown hotel

Tour Overview

Sprawled over a vast coastal plain, Los Angeles is “nineteen suburbs in search of a Metropolis”, to quote Aldous Huxley. It has been a magnet for risk takers from Spanish colonists to the heady days of the Gold Rush. California’s admission into the Union in 1850 and the consequent westerly expansion of the railroad made huge fortunes for many. Subsequently, with the spectacular rise of the film industry, the ‘City of Angels’ was transformed into the entertainment capital of the world, dynamically marking the city’s coming of age as ‘LA’.

During this remarkable and recent past, tycoons, bankers and philanthropists such as J Paul Getty, Henry E Huntington and Norton Simon all collected on an astonishing level. Their aim was an attempt to rival the great collections of the European aristocracy and the magnates of America’s East Coast. Our visit will be the ideal opportunity to investigate these engaging personalities, see their collections and assess if they succeeded.

J Paul Getty’s name is, of course, forever linked with his eponymous museum, modelled on the famous Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.  It contains magnificent antiquities and its sister institution, the Getty Centre, designed by Richard Meier, is one of the world’s great collections with stellar pictures and superlative decorative arts.

The Huntingdon’s collections of paintings, decorative arts, rare books and manuscripts are beautifully displayed amidst immaculate botanical gardens and include Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and marvellous Flemish Renaissance works by van der Weyden and others. Norton Simon amassed one of the largest individual collections ever in the US where European Old Masters (three portraits by Rembrandt, for example) are juxtaposed with a fine display of Asian material. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collections are vast, ranging from the art of the Ancients to contemporary works – it is particularly strong in the Arts of the Americas.

The architecture of the city is as varied and colourful as Los Angeles itself. The Downtown district features many different styles from the monumental ‘Chicago School’ to the striking modern architectural icons of today. Bel Air and Hollywood is full of opulent, luxurious mansions and gardens, a selection of which we shall visit privately. These include Frank Lloyd Wright’s first domestic commission in Los Angeles and the Virginia Robinson Mansion, the oldest estate in Bel Air. The highly varied and picturesque ‘Revival’ style will engage us as we travel across a city which is more an aspirational and modern icon than anything else.

We stay at the palatial Millennium Biltmore, an historic 4* hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. It is perfectly located within walking distance of Broadway, an array of restaurants and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Philharmonic. 

Day by day

Day 1: Tuesday 7 November
We leave from London Heathrow mid-morning and fly with BA to Los Angeles, arriving mid-afternoon. We then travel via bus transfer to Downtown LA and our hotel the 4* Millennium Biltmore. After check-in there will be a group dinner in a local restaurant followed by an early night!
Day 2: Wednesday 8 November
On our first full day we shall explore the Downtown district of the city on foot. We begin with El Pueblo, the oldest surviving area of LA featuring an ensemble of historic buildings from the early nineteenth century. There are a number of Federal buildings built in the Chicago School style and the imposing Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels - built by Rafael Moneo; Spain and South America influence this striking modern church. After a coffee break we walk the short distance to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the LA Philharmonic. Our guided visit will explore Frank Gehry’s galleon-like, yet sculptural, design. After lunch on site at the hall (not included) we walk along Broadway to admire the facades of a number of historic film theatres. These vividly trace the rise of the ‘Talkies’ in the early twentieth century at the centre of the then emerging film industry. By mid-afternoon we return to our hotel where the evening will be free.
Day 3: Thursday 9 November
Today we drive northwards the short distance to Pasadena. The Huntington Gardens and Collections are the remarkable testament of Henry Huntington. His collecting focused primarily on Anglo-American art, history and literature. Collections of paintings, decorative arts, rare books and manuscripts are beautifully displayed amidst immaculate botanical gardens – it will be a memorable visit, ending with lunch in a charming garden pavilion. We then visit the art collection of Norton Simon. One of the largest individual collections ever amassed in the US; European Old Masters are juxtaposed with a fine display of Asian sculpture. After a busy day we return to our hotel where the evening will be free.
Day 4: Friday 10 November
This morning we drive westwards to visit the Getty Centre. The world’s richest museum is located above West Beverley Hills, overlooking Santa Monica. Here, Richard Meier’s design ingeniously houses stunning displays of European Old Masters, decorative arts, drawings and photographs. After our morning’s guided visit, we have a group lunch at the centre’s restaurant. In the afternoon there will be time to explore the galleries at leisure after which we return to the hotel where the evening will be free.
Day 5: Saturday 11 November
Our half-day of visits brings us to iconic Beverly Hills. The wide, palm-lined avenues of Bel Air are filled with legions of quite extraordinary estates. One of these is the Virginia Robinson Gardens, the oldest estate in Beverly Hills. Our private visit focuses on the splendid gardens known for their camellias, palms and subtropical plants. We then have coffee at the legendary Pink Palace, or the Beverly Hills Hotel, after which we drive across Hollywood to visit Hollyhock at Barnsdale, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first LA home and only recently opened after restoration. Lunch is not included today and you may wish to explore Beverly Hills, Hollywood or Downtown at leisure. Thus, the remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free.
Day 6: Sunday 12 November
Crossing Midtown, we stop briefly at Doheny Mansion, an intriguing Spanish Gothic Revival house. We continue to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Its collections are wide ranging and we focus on eighteenth to nineteenth century American Art and some European pictures. Lunch is not included today and there will be a final group dinner in a 1* Michelin-rated restaurant, close to our hotel.
Days 7 & 8: Monday 13 & Tuesday 14 November
On our final morning we travel to the coast at Pacific Palisades to visit the remarkable architectural conceit, the Getty Villa. Designed to resemble the ancient Roman Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, the setting and collection mirror the ambition and breadth of imagination of J Paul Getty. We continue to Malibu and our final group lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We then travel to Los Angeles airport and our early evening return flight home to Heathrow, arriving at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Concerts & Operas

Please contact us for available performances during our stay. You can either book tickets directly or the CICERONI office can book on your behalf.


  • Price: £3,485 per person
  • Price without flights: £3,015
  • Deposit: £450
  • Single Supplement: £495 (Double Room for Sole Use)
  • Tour Manager: James Hill

Hotel Details

6 Nights with Breakfast at the 4* Millennium Biltmore in Downtown Los Angeles


British Airways

Outward:  BA283 Depart London Heathrow 1020 arrive Los Angeles 1330 

Return:  BA268 Depart Los Angeles 2055 arrive London 1515 Tues 14th

Price includes

2 Dinners & 3 Lunches with wine, water & coffee, all local transfers, City Tax, entry fees & gratuities, services of James Hill and all museum and gallery guides

Not included

Travel to/from Heathrow, 4 Dinners & 4 Lunches


Current Conditions

Weather Conditions for Los Angeles in November are:
Average Temperature between: 10oC - 23oC / 50oF - 73oF
Rainfall: 31mm / 1.2inches


US Dollar

Fitness levels

We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.

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