The Getty, Skirball Cultural Center Close Under Wildfire Threat

The Getty Center from the air, 2008
The Getty Center from the air, 2008
(Getty Center)
  • View of Skirball Fire near the Getty Center.  via Twitter, Melissa Castro‏ @Healthgap_mila

    View of Skirball Fire near the Getty Center. via Twitter, Melissa Castro‏ @Healthgap_mila

The Getty Center closed to protect its art collections on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as several fast-moving wildfires raged in Southern California. 

Erupting after destructive fires to the north have forced mass evacuations, the Skirball Fire shut down the I-405 early Wednesday morning. Flames loom across the freeway from the Getty Museum on its hilltop perch above Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Designed some 20 years ago by Richard Meier, the Getty Center was built with wildfires in mind. 

"The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty," Ron Hartwig, the Getty's vice president of communications, told the LA Times.

Gallery temperature, air quality, and humidity are controlled to safeguard art, and doors are kept shut during the museum's closure. Special water-drenching shades can cover windows, reports TMZ.

“Air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke,” the museum tweeted. “We continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates as we have them.”

The concrete building complex is clad with travertine and metal panels and surrounded by cactus and short, water-dense plants, while brush is regularly cleared away from the hillside. A million-gallon water tank is accessible on site and there is a helipad for helicopters carrying water.

Essential personnel, mostly security staff, remained on site, according to Lee Rosenbaum's interview with Hartwig.

Nearby the Skirball Cultural Center, which gave name to the current fire crisis, has also closed. 

The Getty Center remains closed along with the Getty Villa "to support emergency operations in the area," the museum posted on Twitter. 

Firefighters slept overnight at the Getty Center as the Skirball Fire on Thursday continues in the Bel Air neighborhood across the freeway. Heavy Santa Ana winds are expected to fan flames in multiple regional fires through Friday.

(Updated: Thursday morning)

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