The galleries showcasing the art collection of the Getty Villa are organized by theme, such as Stories of the Trojan War, Dionysos and the Theater, Athletes and Competition, and Gods and Goddesses. This arrangement allows guests to explore the works of art in the context of their use in ancient societies, inspiring a deeper understanding of the ancient world.
Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity
This exhibition displays more than 180 ancient glass items from Erwin Oppenländer's collection. This collection contains works from Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Roman Empire. The glass collection spans the complete period of ancient glass production, all the way back to its beginnings around 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia to Islamic and Byzantine glass in the 11th century A.D. The array of ancient glassmaking techniques showcased in the collection of Erwin Oppenländer is also noteworthy. These techniques include mosaic, casting, inflation, core forming, cutting, mold blowing, incising, and cameo carving. All of these techniques are actually still used today by glass artists.
The Getty Villa was designed to be a recreation of a country house in ancient Rome, offering a taste of life during the first century AD. Specifically, the villa is modeled after a Roman country home that existed during the first century in Herculaneum, the Villa dei Papiri. The Getty Villa was built in the early 1970's by architects who worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the exterior and interior details. Buried in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, much of the Villa dei Papiri still remains unexcavated.
As a result, the architects who designed the Getty Villa based several of the villa's landscaping and architectural details on features from other houses in other ancient Roman homes in the towns of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Stabiae. The gardens of Getty Villa are essential to the setting of the villa, just as they were in the ancient Roman home. These gardens include shrubs and herbs inspired by the ones grown for ceremony and food in the gardens of ancient Roman homes. The Getty Villa also contains details like bronze lanterns designed to look like the ones carried by Romans on streets of ancient Pompeii.
The Getty Villa Reimagined-1996
In 1996, the Getty Villa was renovated, with guests now beginning their visit in the open-air, grand Entry Pavilion. Visitors then proceed down a beautiful pathway to the center of the villa. Each building that makes up the site is situated at a slightly different elevation, offering a new discovery with every perspective. Guests are able to experience the Getty Villa as an archaeological excavation site. Those visiting the site first view the villa through the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. The 500-seat, outdoor theater was modeled after ancient prototypes as well. It connects the entrance to the J. Paul Getty Museum with the Auditorium, Museum Stores, and Cafe.
Modern designs that harmonize with the original style were incorporated into the Getty Villa during the renovation. The villa's materials are echoed by wood-formed concrete, bronze, wood, travertine, and glass. In addition to the creation of the Entry Pavilion, galleries were renovated with details inspired by Roman and modern models, and a new staircase and skylights were installed.
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