Constructed in the early 1970s, the Getty Villa in Malibu is an educational center and museum, created as the vision of American-born British philanthropist Sir John Paul Getty (1932~2003). Modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century Roman country house in Herculaneum, Italy, the villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
The Getty Villa houses the J. Paul Getty Museum's collection of roughly 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, objects dating from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400. Besides monumental sculptures, there are artifacts of everyday life, such as coins, gems, and jewelry. They have been arranged by themes, including Gods and Goddesses, Dionysus and the Theater, and Stories of the Trojan War. More than 1,200 works are on display in the 23 galleries of the permanent collection. Five additional galleries are devoted to changing exhibitions.
Architectural consultant Norman Neuerburg worked closely with Getty to develop the villa's original Roman-inspired interiors and exteriors. In 1997, Boston-based architects Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti undertook renovations, including the open-air Entry Pavilion and the 450-seat outdoor classical amphitheater - Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater.
North of the Museum is the Ranch House, where the original J. Paul Getty Museum was located. It now houses antiquities, curatorial offices, meeting rooms, and a 20,000-volume Research Library. Also located in the North Campus is the UCLA/Getty Master's Program on the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Materials, the first program of its kind in the United States. A distinguished leader in the field is named Villa Professor each year and works with Getty staff to set the intellectual direction of the Villa Scholars' Program.
As in ancient Roman homes, gardens are an important part of the Getty Villa. Some 300 varieties of plant material were used in the landscaping. Open spaces are adorned with bronze sculptures, fountains, trees, herbs and flowers that would have been familiar to the Romans of old.
The Inner Peristyle with its narrow reflecting pool provides a secluded resting spot at the very center of the property. Likewise, the East Garden is a place of tranquility. There is also an herb garden just outside the Museum entrance. And the Outer Peristyle is the largest garden, complete with hedge-lined pathways, circular stone benches, bay laurel, ivy and oleander plantings, a 220-foot-long reflecting pool, bronze sculptures, wall paintings, and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
When visitors get hungry, they have three options. The Caf, at Getty Villa serves casual Mediterranean fare. Its soups, salads, Panini, pizzas, pastas, risotto and desserts feature organic, locally grown produce. Both indoor and al fresco seating are available. Wine and beer are also on the menu. Alternatively, the Coffee Kiosk near the Caf, entrance offers a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as house-made soup, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and a selection of baked goods, desserts, and ice cream. For those who prefer picnicking in the gardens, gourmet boxed lunches can be picked up near the Caf,, too.
The Getty Villa is located one mile north of Sunset Boulevard and approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. The address is 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California 90272. Note that access to the villa entrance is only from the northbound right-hand lane of Pacific Coast Highway.
Opening hours for the site and galleries are 10am to 5pm each Wednesday through Monday, closed on Tuesdays, New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas. Although admission to the Getty Villa and all exhibitions is free, visitors must obtain an advance, timed ticket prior to arrival. A parking charge of $15 is levied per car or motorcycle prior to 5pm, and free thereafter. Public transportation is also available; the villa is served by Metro Bus 534.