Sunday, July 15, 2007

Getty Villa

NOTE: I just went back to the Villa today and took the Orientation tour. There is no need to take both the Architecture and Garden tour and the Orientation tour. They overlap a lot. Instead I recommend getting in line early for the spotlight tour lead by the gallery teachers, not the docents. We showed up at 2:45 for the 3 p.m. tour and it was full. So sad.

June 24, 2007 - On Saturday Ty and I went north to Pacific
Palisades to visit J. Paul Getty's renovated Villa.

It is modeled after the ancient Villa dei Papiri, believed to have been the home of Julius Caesar's father-in-law, buried by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. Now the Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.

The grounds are designed to resemble an archeological site. On the top level there are modern buildings and a cafe with outdoor tables. We travel down into the site the architects built layers of sedementary rock into the canyon walls to represent time as we descend upon the Roman home beautifully restored and alive to tell its story.

The Villa is dedicated to showing life as the romans lived. Built around a large courtyard with small galleries that would have been rooms for the family. The walkways are lined with busts of individuals known by the family, serving as conversation pieces for their guests as they toured the home.

The gardens are spectacular. They have gone to painstaking detail to plant only those flowers and herbs that would have been in existance in Roman times.

We watched a 12 min overview of the building and renovation of the Villa and also took the 40 minute Garden and Architecture Tour. I highly recommend it as a great introduction to the museum and its vision. There are also other tours available that go into greater depth about the collections.

One thing I loved was that every tour is given a receiver and headphones. You can wander up to 100 feet away from your group and still hear what the docent is saying. It gives greater opportunity to explore and not have to travel through the musueum in a clump straining to hear. Great feature.

The museum has 44,000k pieces of antiquity and 1,200 are on display, so no two visits to the Villa will be the same. Log onto to request your free tickets. I would plan a few weeks in advance as tickets go quickly. But the great thing about a limited number of tickets per day is that the museum never feels too crowded. We arrived at 11 a.m. and wandered around, took a tour, leisurely strolled through exhibits and ate in the cafe and left around 4 p.m. We didn't feel rushed. It was actually a very relaxing experience.

Parking is $8.

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