In 1945, J. Paul Getty purchased a sixty-four-acre site in Malibu and in 1954, he opened the original J. Paul Getty Museum in his home to show his collection, of which Greek and Roman antiquities are an important element.
In 1968, Getty decided then to re-create a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri, on the property to display his growing collection of art. And in 1974, the new Getty Museum opens to the public, becoming one of Southern California’s cultural landmarks.
In 1997, the Malibu site closed for renovation; the Getty Center in Los Angeles opens to the public.
In 2006, the newly renovated Malibu site opened as the Getty Villa, dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
To me, the Getty Villa is an all-star. The view alone from the porticos across the expanse of the San Fernando Valley is well worth the price of admission.
The architecture alone is worth the visit.
Top left: Outdoor Theater
Top right: East Garden, the colorful fountain with shells and theater masks is a replica of an ancient fountain in the House of Large Fountain in Pompeii.
Bottom left: Herb Garden, most Roman houses had both formal and household gardens. The Herb Garden is planted with species from the Mediterranean — fruit trees, flowering shrubs, and herbs used for cooking and medicine.
Bottom right: part of Outer Peristyle, see photos from below.
The Outer Peristyle is a formal garden offering a peaceful place for conversations and contemplation. Bronze replicas of statues found at the Villa dei Papiri are placed in their ancient findspots.
Hermes is the God of transitions and boundaries symbolized by wearing winged sandals (and many others) which by Greek mythology helped the god flew as swift as any bird.
The villa’s main drive simulates the ancient streets of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were paved with large irregular stones.
The Getty Villa is modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country house in Herculaneum buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Because most of the Villa dei Papiri remains unexcavated, many of the Getty Villa’s architectural details are based on elements drawn from other ancient Roman homes in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae.
Our visit to this place was delighting and educating. We all learn something new every time we visit a place.