Friday, June 15, 2007

Getty Villa

For all the things that Southern California is or isn't to us folks up north, I have to admit that they have some pretty amazing museums. One in particular that I actually got to visit twice (because the first group I went with told the people who didn't go how awesome it was, so the second group wanted to go too) was the Getty Villa on the southern end of Malibu just off the PCH.

Getty's vision was to build a classic Roman villa modeled after the Villa dei Papiri which was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and later partially excavated. He built the villa with the intent of housing his art collection for the public and giving us common folk a taste of what it would have been like to be a Roman citizen back in the hey day, albeit a really rich Roman citizen.

The result is an amazingly beautiful setting overlooking the coast. Today the villa only houses the antiquities collection. The rest of the collection has been moved to the new Getty Center just off the 405. I always forget that I really love antiquities. Usually at other museums like the Met or Louvre which house significant antiquity collections, I breeze past the ancient Roman and Greek art to see the "good" stuff like the 19th century French and modern paintings. When you are surrounded by only antiquities, they take on a whole new significance and beauty. It's also the type of art that you really need good explanations or a good guide to tell you the mythology stories and explain the context since it is so different from the way we live today or common religious beliefs.

The museum cafe is pretty good too. So if you get the chance stop by, enjoy a relaxing day of browsing antiquities, going on tours, and lunching on the patio overlooking the villa. The museum is free except for the $8 parking fee, but make sure you make a reservation in advance.

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