It’s been over twenty five years since I visited the Getty Villa.  I don’t know why it has taken me so long to go back.  Live got in the way I suppose. In all fairness I should preface this post by saying that in my youth I majored in Classical Archaeology so not only was this a visit to an ancient time, but a trip to my past as well.

Getty Villa is located in Pacific Palisades right off Pacific Coast Highway not far from Santa Monica.  It’s a lovely setting for a museum devoted to the art and architecture of classical Greece and Rome.  The main building of the museum is modeled after the House of the Papyri from the city of Herculaneum, one of the towns destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Entrance to the Getty Villa museum

Romans, rich and poor, loved gardens and designed their architecture to include them.  The Getty Villa has plenty of gardens from an herb garden to the peaceful Inner Peristyle at the center of the museum building. I didn’t have nearly enough time to see them all.  Next time, and I hope it won’t be another twenty five years, I’ll plan to stay in the area for a couple days so I don’t have to rush home in order to beat the traffic.  While on the subject of gardens I should also mention that at this time all the fountains, ponds and other water features are turned off owing to California’s severe drought conditions.  Nonetheless there is still plenty to see, and there is always the art.

Inside the museum are lovey examples of classical sculpture and pottery.  I especially liked the delicate portrait of a girl done in bronze.

Bronze sculpture of the head of a girl Notice the remaining earring!  This visit was like visiting old friends and it was so nice to be able to dredge up enough memory to be able to read some of the ancient Greek.  I’m not bragging here.  My Greek was never that good and the best I can now manage is to recognize a few names. That’s just the way it is.  No big deal, and nowhere near as useful as being fluent in a modern language.

I think I most enjoyed seeing my friend’s response to the art.  She marveled at the skill of those ancient artisans and felt a connection to them.  We aren’t so very different from those people of 2500 years ago.  The art and beauty they created still moves us.  I just love seeing all the intricate detail on these Red Figure ware pots.

Greek Red Figure ware pot

The Getty Villa is the permanent home of the Getty antiquities collection but it also houses special exhibits.  Currently on display was an exhibit called “Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity.”  It featured some outstanding examples of glass bottles, cups and bowls.

Ancient glass cup - blue with white swirls. Some were so ornate or delicate.  Such craftsmanship went into the making of these things.  It astounds me that they survived.

I love museums.  If you too have a yen for ancient art, be sure to schedule some time for the Getty Villa.  It’s a beautiful place, inside and out!  A couple of words about logistics.  The Getty Villa is free.  One does need a reservation for parking.  The parking fee is $15.

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