I first came across the Getty Villa when I was researching Art galleries in Los Angeles. My mum was coming over to see me and I was looking up some art galleries to take her when I found the Getty centre. The Getty Centre is an institute that houses various exhibitions of artwork for the public to view and is apart of the Getty trust which built the Getty Villa. J. Paul Getty was an oil tycoon with an fortune worth over two billion dollars when he died in the 1970’s. He was very passionate about art and antiquities, with his wealth enabling his hobby to evolve until he was one of the most notable collectors in America. Getty was a philanthropist and a very generous man who wanted to share his collection with the public. Initially he set up a museum in his home in Malibu but this only lasted a short while until he realised he was running out of room.
Getty’s expanding collections meant he was running out of room to display them. He decided he needed to build a museum to be able to accommodate future growth. His fascination in Ancient Rome governed his plans to build a roman style villa as he thought it was an appropriate setting for his art collection. He wanted visitors to get a real sense of what it would have been like living in a roman villa, as a sort of immersive experience. The Getty villa Museum is based off an excavated villa called Villa Dei Papiri which was the largest and most luxuriously furnished villa found when it was uncovered in the 1700’s in Herculaneum. This was a wealthy town located near Pompeii and shared the same destruction with the eruption of the Mount vesuvius volcano. The site of the actual museum is meant to mimic that of an excavation site, once you enter the grounds you notice many stairs and levels that you have to navigate to get down onto the museums level.
My initial thoughts standing out the front of the building were that I couldn’t believe that this was something people were capable of building almost 2000 years ago. The fact that the Roman’s appreciated high attention to detail within the buildings design and decoration was pretty overwhelming. It showed that their civilization deeply cared about a lifestyle rather then just living by necessity. There are three areas to the Villa, the Atrium where you first enter the villa. This was a large public room where business was conducted. This leads to the Inner Peristyle which is where the family quarters were located with a central courtyard garden to allow light into the rooms and a central fountain for cooling. The last area is the Outer Peristyle located on the other side of the villa it was considered the most private of the home where you were able to exercise by walking through the gardens or swimming in the pool. This was a place where lavish parties were held or just a quite place to sit and relax. A very important area of the Villa is the gardens, specifically the herb garden as these were used not only in cooking but in medicines and for cosmetic reasons (such as smell!). This consisted of lavender, thyme, mint and many more.
The art and antiquities collection are huge with almost 1,200 items on display! Every room is filled with so many artifacts its overwhelming! From giant statues to small perfume bottles this museum really covers an array of antiques represent the changes over 7000 thousand years, from the stone age to the end of the Roman Empire.
My favourite part of the whole experience would have to be the actual grounds of the Villa with the most lush and beautiful gardens. On a sunny day in Malibu you can relate to what it may have felt like to walk around the villa on the edge of the Mediterranean. Only an hours drive from L.A its an experience that I’ve never had before. If you are an art lover or just want a relaxing afternoon strolling peaceful garden’s then I’d put this on the to do list!
To make the whole day even better we had booked lunch at Nobu Malibu considering the Villa was only a few hundred meters down the road! It was the perfect way to relax after a few hours of strolling around the villa. I find going to Nobu during the day has a much more coastal feel as you can actually see out across the ocean and up the along the beach. At nighttime you can hear the ocean but you cant see the view like you can during the day. My favourite dishes are the creamy ponzu tempura shrimp, miso black cod and the yellowtail jalapeno sashimi! After lunch we cruised back along the coastal road whilst straining our necks to see the amazing houses that perch on the edge of the cliff and out onto the waterfront! If you want to explore the coast I would suggest hiring a car for the day so you can have the freedom to stop along the way, its one of my favourite day trips from L.A!!!