The Getty Villa: A Place from Another Time

Ever wanted to take a stroll through the gardens of an ancient Roman country house? At the Getty Villa in Malibu, California, you can literally do just that, without having to pay the small fortune it would take to travel to Rome for the same experience.

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Hygieia-Aphrodite: Roman, A.D. 200-250

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Pluto: Roman, A.D. 1-100

I visited the Getty Villa, under the recommendation from a close friend and fellow museum lover, without any prior knowledge about the museum or its exhibits. As a Greek mythology enthusiast, I was like a kid in the candy store when I arrived and found that the Getty Villa is basically a treasure trove of art and sculptures from ancient Rome and Greece.

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Ancient coins from the Greek mainland, islands and colonies.

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Horses in ancient art.

The Getty Villa features 23 different galleries organized by theme, five of which are dedicated to changing exhibits. There are about 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities on display, dating from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400. I loved how each gallery was small and intimate, allowing each room to feature a specific God or Goddess, Greek theater or the Trojan War. It was as if each gallery had a different story, yet were all connected through the similarities shared between ancient Mediterranean cultures.

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Inner Peristyle Garden

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East Garden

While the exhibits themselves were topnotch, it was the Getty Villa’s architecture and four, stunning gardens that made you feel as if you were suddenly transported to a different era. The building itself is designed to model a 1st Century Roman country house, more specifically the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy. Four distinct gardens added a subtle ambiance to the whole experience. My favorite garden was the Outer Peristyle, with its hedged pathways and 220-foot reflecting pool – I felt like Meg from Hercules walking through the Getty Villa’s gardens.

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Sarcophagus Panel with the Myth of Endymion and Selene: Roman, about A.D. 210

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Wall or Ceiling Fragments with Maenad, Bacchus and Ariadne, and a Satyr: Roman A.D. 1-75

Paul Getty, the richest living American in the late 1950s, was an American industrialist during a time of major industrialization in the U.S. As an avid collector of art, Getty’s collection was the foundation of the Getty Museum and Villa. He also created the J. Paul Getty Trust, which operates the Getty Museum, Getty Foundation, Getty Research Institute and Getty Conservation Institute, and is the world’s wealthiest art institution.

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Sarcophagus with Scenes of Bacchus: Roman, A.D. 210-220, with nineteenth-century supports

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Mold-Blown Glass: around 25 B.C.

If you would like a place to escape to, without having to board a plane, I would highly recommend spending a day at the Getty Villa.

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