Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Getty Museum under threat from Skirball Wild Fire

The Getty Centre is currently very close to the latest fire in California (the Skirball Fire) which shut down nine miles of I-405 - one of the busiest freeways in the USA during morning rush hour.

This post demonstrates people's concerns and the museum's current response.
The Getty is in a very restrained way communicating what is happening via its Twitter account above and website below. The announcement in red states
The Getty Center and the Getty Villa will be closed to the public Tuesday, December 5, and Wednesday, December 6, to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region.
Getty Website
and on Facebook where they state

The latest from Twitter....

The current fire dubbed the Skirball Fire, was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday.  The hillside which is engulfed in flame is just the other side of the freeway from the Museum and the obvious concern is that the fire might jump the freeway given the strength of the Santa Ana winds.

The Getty Centre is not in the mandatory evacuation area - it's in the yellow (be ready to go) zone to the left of the freeway

The situation as I understand is that the Getty Museum is built to withstand a fire storm. The Bel Air / Brentwood Fire in 1961 which destroyed 500 homes in the area demonstrated what the Museum might have to contend with in the event of a major fire - but this is the first time it has been tested.

Aerial view of The Getty Centre minus fire

Lee Rosenbaum (CultureGrrl) has been interviewing the Vice President of the Getty - see
“Essential Personnel”: My Q&A with Getty’s Communications VP on the Approaching Wildfires published today (December 6, 2017).

She quotes him as saying
the Getty was really designed and built to protect against disasters like a major fire. Even the landscaping is designed so that the plants with the highest water content are closest to the building. Further away, they is more brush. But we also maintain the brush, so that we don’t have combustible materials. The buildings themselves are made of travertine and metal panels.

Our air filtration system is very sophisticated: It basically reverses, so that air is pushed out rather than in and smoke is not able to get into the galleries to damage the collection in any way. So the best place for the collection is right here at the Getty
[emphasis added].
Rosenbaum: Is there any chance that the fire may spread to where you are?
Hartwig: I don’t want to speculate. At the moment we’re feeling that it probably won’t.
Rosenbaum: If it did, you’re as fire-safe as you can be, but you’re not fireproof?
Hartwig: Basically, both the landscaping and the buildings themselves were designed to protect for just such an eventuality. Even where there are windows, there are shades to drop and they’re water-drenched and so forth. Thank God for Richard Meier’s design, 20 years ago, and the construction of the building. 
You can view the art collection on the Getty website and also see some of the highlight on Wikipedia's article about The Getty Museum

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