Wildfires Prompt LA’s Getty and Skirball Centers to Shutter

Five fires have now claimed more than 60,000 acres and 150 homes collectively.

Courtesy Daniella Guzman via Twitter
Courtesy Daniella Guzman via Twitter

The wildfires currently raging out of control in Los Angeles and Ventura County have claimed 150 homes and triggered the evacuation of more than 27,000 people. Meanwhile, cultural institutions are dealing with fallout from the blazes, and carefully eyeing the effects. Both the Getty Center and Villa and the Skirball Cultural Center have announced that they will remain closed today because of smoke conditions.

“Today we chose to close our administrative offices for the safety of our staff as well,” Skirball spokesperson Mia Cariño told artnet News via email. “Essential security and engineering staff are on site, in close touch with LAFD and LAPD, monitoring the situation,” she added.

Further north, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art said frequent power outages due to the fire prompted its closure. Later in the morning, the Hammer Museum also announced it was closed for the day in order to protect artworks from smoke conditions.

Last night, a Getty spokesperson told artnet News last night that both the Getty Center and Villa were not at risk as the fires were nowhere near them. That changed, however, when a third fire—now being called the Skirball Fire—broke out early this morning just northeast of the Getty Center and east of the San Diego Freeway. The institution was monitoring the situation and said will issue updates as they are available.

By yesterday, before the Skirball Fire had broken out, the museum was already closed to protect the collections against smoke. “All Getty buildings have sophisticated filtration systems, but their effectiveness can be compromised by heavy traffic going in and out of buildings. We will continue to close the Getty Center and Getty Villa to visitors [December 6] due to continued smoke.” (The Villa was closed to the public yesterday as per its usual schedule.)

According to an update from Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief John Todd, as of 4:20 p.m. EST, the Skirball Fire in the Bel-Air Area was spread over 150 acres and the 405 freeway has been closed at Sepulveda Pass (near the Getty Museum). The fire has led to power outages on the Westside of LA and an unknown number of structures have been damaged and lost. artnet News confirmed that at least four homes have been destroyed so far.

Social media posts this morning documented the worsening conditions, including one describing a six-acre hillside fire off the 405 freeway.

Another tweet from an NBCLA reporter reads: “5th fast-moving fire uphill and threatening structures near The Getty Center. 405 northbound shutdown.”

There are now reportedly five discrete fires burning in southern California. An LA County fire that started near Kagel Canyon is being called the Creek Fire and covers 11,000 acres. The Ventura County blaze, started near St. Thomas Aquinas college and known as the Thomas Fire, covers 50,000 acres. Firefighters are working around the clock to both contain the blazes and evacuate people.

“The main focus right now is to get people out,” said John Todd, deputy fire chief with LA County Fire Department.


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