But the Getty Museum had five aspects that any museum, no matter what your size or discipline, can and should emulate.
Visitors could photograph everywhere except in the temporary exhibitions. In several other LA museum visits, photography was forbidden even in permanent galleries with few objects. At one museum, when I asked why, I got a shrug and a "well, they say so," from the front desk staff. Not friendly (and hence, why you won't be seeing those museums here.)
This friendliness, the feeling of being welcomed, didn't feel phoney, but it obviously was something that was reinforced by museum leaders.
Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in LA Painting and Sculpture and the Lyonel Feininger temporary exhibits were terrific. No pictures allowed in these temporary exhibits and I didn't take notes, but my memory of these is that they were each different in feel, but eminently readable. The Pacific Standard Time ones were sort of muscular, with lots of active words and a real sense of the power and experimentation of the time period. The Feininger ones were quieter, and took the visitor through a life filled with art--but also with family and colleagues. They were more like having a quiet conversation. And both seemed blessedly free of the sort of art history jargon all too often found in art museum labels. There were also additional materials that provided great starting places to think about art, as in this looking at photographs piece.
As we waited to take the tram back down, a sign invited us to take an online survey. All of us have seen them, and survey takers usually have a chance to win a membership or something of value to them. This turned that aspect on its head. For every visitor taking the survey, the museum would donate $10 to Inner City Arts. I felt great helping! What if you said for each survey taken, you would offer free admission to a family? How else can we get people to think about the largest aspects of community, not just themselves?
As we were leaving, I glanced at a small plaque near a bust of J. Paul Getty himself, where it notes that the museum has been dedicated to "delighting and educating its visitors." You sure did!