The Getty Villa

I took a much needed day off and went on a ride to The Getty Villa. Located in the Pacific Palisades near Malibu, oil tycoon JP Getty had a museum built to house his collection of Roman, Greek and Etruscan art work.

When he first started collecting art, he kept it in his house. Later, he wanted to share the art and opened up the house to visitors. He eventually built a wing on his house to help showcase the ever expanding collection.

When even that didn’t help, he decided to have a villa, modeled after the Villa dei Papiri buried in 79 by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, built. Villa dei Papiri was discovered in the 1800s. Rumor has it that the villa belonged to Julius Caesar’s father in law. While the entire villa has not yet been excavated, the floor plan there served as the basis for the floor plan of the museum.

The artwork and antiquities housed in the Villa are displayed in individual rooms, in themes. The permanent displays reflect the Greek, Roman, or Etruscan works of art. Two of the changing collections displayed “Stories in Stone”, mosaic works of Roman African art, and the Tragedy of Hippolytos and Phaidra.

The museum also has a beautiful herb garden, as if it were a real working Italian villa. It’s been closed since 1997 for renovations. It finally opened during the summer.

Enough of the “brochure” description!

Most of the art was made of marble, terrazzo, or terracotta. There was a larger than life size bronze statue almost completely intact. There was also an intact mummy never displayed before. I didn’t hang out in that room too long.

There was a room that showed some of the marble statues that had been restored over the years. I haven’t yet decided if I enjoyed these. While it’s a little disconcerting to look at a statue with no head or arms or feet, to restore it seems a violation of the original artist and, more importantly, of time itself.

I stopped in the café and had an early lunch. I was “corrected” by the cashier when I ordered the bruschetta. In Italian, it’s pronounced with a sk sound. When I mentioned this to her, she thanked me for correcting her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the “Bon Appetit” on her lapel was French.

After returning to the museum and walking through the rest of the displays, I finished up my visit to the Getty Villa by strolling along the gardens and the reflecting pool. They had several ponds in the herb garden section, and I couldn’t help but notice that their water lilies still bloomed, and their fish were still alive.

I love going to museums that have old stuff in them. I like to look at (and touch if possible) items from other eras. I imagine someone just like me doing the same exact thing, only a thousand years before. Silly imagination. I’m sure that while I look on at what is certainly a priceless antiquity, they probably played leap frog over it!

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