The Getty Center in Los Angeles has one of the best collections of European art and sculpture in North America and remains one of the top-visited art museums in the United States. The permanent collection consists of European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The recently built Getty Center was constructed in 1997 by renowned architect Richard Meier in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. The Getty Center is a massive complex of modernly styled buildings that house the Getty art collection, the Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute. In addition, there is a central garden located on the grounds with panoramic views of Los Angeles. Five of the Getty Center's must-see artworks include: 1. Vincent Van Gogh's Irises - A painting by Vincent Van Gogh while he was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in France. The relaxed brushstrokes and lack of tension in his paintings during this time were characteristic of Van Gogh's paintings leading up to his mental attack at the asylum. He called this painting "the lightning conductor for my illness" because he considered it therapy for his feelings of insanity and depression. 2. Arii Matamoe (The Royal End) - An unearthing painting of a decapitated human head ornately displayed on a canvas cushion by post-Impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin, who had witnessed a public execution by guillotine in Polynesia several years earlier. Gauguin's experiences during his travels led to him being strongly opposed to the European colonization and the Imperialistic viewpoint. Gauguin had an obsession with the theme of death which appears in a number of his paintings. 3. Portrait of a Halberdier - A portrait of an Italian foot soldier by Pontormo, an Italian Mannerist painter of the Florentine Renaissance. The subject is holding a halberd, a combination spear and battle-ax used by European soldiers in the 16th through 18th centuries. Potormo is famous for his poses of subjects who seem to float in his painting, their bodies and clothing unhampered by gravity. 4. Stag Beetle - A watercolor by Northern Renaissance painter, Albrecht Durer of a beetle standing on a page or script. Durer used his incredible detail to represent every intricate detail on the insect's body. Durer, a true Renaissance artist, often went against his art contemporaries who believed insects were the lowest of creatures and never the focus of a masterpiece. 5. Stammheim Missal - The Stammheim Missal was produced in Lower Saxony around 1170 at Saint Michael's Abbey at Hildesheim, one of the most celebrated abbeys in medieval Germany. It contains prayers stated by the priest and the chants sung by the choir during Mass. This remarkable hand-crafted script book was painted in a Romanesque style using alternating color schemes and profusely decorated with small characters and animals. For more free visiting tips and information, consult a Getty Museum Visiting Guide, or visit Art-Museum-Guide.com your free online guide to art museums all over the world.