The Getty Villa in Malibu, CA, inspired by the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum in Italy, is a museum and education center focused on the culture and art of ancient Rome, Greece, and Etruria. It houses part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, displaying approximately 44,000 antiquities from the ancient civilizations. These works of art date back from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400. The emphasis on ancient Rome is also displayed through the villa's architecture and gardens.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum's antiquities collection, consisting of around 44,000 Roman, Etruscan, and Greek antiquities, is housed in the Getty Villa. The Getty Villa's art collection and changing exhibitions provide 7,000 years worth of ancient art. This collection dates back to the end of the Stone Age through to the fall of the Roman Empire.

The art is displayed throughout 23 permanent collection galleries, and an additional five galleries designed for the changing exhibits. Among the pieces in the collection are both monumental sculptures and artifacts of everyday life from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400. There are also spaces specifically designed to display objects such as gems, coins, jewelry, Cycladic figures, and luxury vessels.

Visitors to the Getty Villa, California, can explore ancient art and culture in the TimeScape Room through interactive activities. This educational room lets guests learn more about the artistic traditions of ancient Etruria, Greece, and Rome. As a complement to the permanent galleries in the Getty Villa, multimedia presentations illustrate how art evolved over time in the ancient world, as well as how it developed throughout the Mediterranean. A wall-sized timeline displays the interconnected histories of Rome, Etruria, and Greece.

The TimeScape Room also contains an interactive digital map allows visitors to follow the changing face over time of the ancient Mediterranean, and a three dimensional model that represents how material remains of civilizations accumulate over time in the earth. Guests can also explore ancient works of art from Greece, Rome, and Etruria more in-depth with audio that illuminates the style in ancient artwork. There are also GettyGuide stations that offer a variety of interactive multimedia tools through which visitors can deepen their understanding of ancient art.

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The Family Forum is an entertaining space for the whole family. The area contains interactive opportunities created with the purpose of getting children, as well as families, to learn, explore and play together. The main focus of the space is vases from ancient Greece, including how they were used, made, and decorated during ancient times. Guests can learn more about vase-painting techniques once used by craftsmen during ancient times in the vase decorating space in which visitors can draw on life-sized replicas of ancient vases or rub patterns off designs based on ancient examples.

Guests also have the opportunity to transform themselves into a musician, athlete, or monster in the shadow-pose area by stepping into a scene from an ancient vase and acting out their own stories. The Family Forum also offers a chance to explore different shapes of vases by piecing together a 3D puzzle of building blocks to construct different vase forms. There are many other activities throughout the space, such as a display of vases being fired inside of a kiln, feeling potters' clay, and stepping inside an oversized replica of a pithes, which is a large vase with relief decoration.

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.

The Getty Villa features four serene gardens modeled after those in ancient Rome, featuring reflecting pools, fountains, and arbors. These gardens consists of plants known to be from the ancient Mediterranean. There are around 300 different species of plants used in the landscaping details of the villa. Just like in ancient times, the gardens are an essential part of the villa's setting. Open areas around the Getty Villa showcase fountains, bronze sculptures, and abundant plantings of trees, flowers, and herbs used by ancient Romans.

Inner Peristyle

The Inner Peristyle offers an quaint spot to rest at the heart of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Replicas of objects found at the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum are placed around a narrow reflecting pool, and include bronze statues portraying women who have come to a stream to draw water and square marble basins.

Outer Peristyle

The largest garden at the Getty Villa is the Outer Peristyle, found just outside the south doors of the museum. Plants used by ancient Romans, including boxwood, laurel, ivy, oleander, and myrtle can be found surrounding a long reflecting pool that stretches 220 feet. Replica bronze statues of those found at Villa dei Papiri are situated where they were during ancient Rome. A covered walkway, or peristyle, surrounds the garden and guides guests past illusionary wall paintings to amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Other pathways wind throughout the formal garden lined with hedges and circular stone benches.

Herb Garden

Located just outside of the museum's entrance, the Herb Garden features a mosaic of colorful, fragrant perennials and annuals, as well as fruit trees, which were used for ceremony, food, and medicine in ancient Roman society. Water lilies in a small pond make up the centerpiece of this tranquil spot for birdwatching and strolling.

East Garden

The East Garden is located just past the museum's East Stair, and is one the most serene spots at the Getty Villa. The walled garden is provided shade from laurel and sycamore trees, and is livened by the splashing water coming from two sculptural fountains. On the east wall, theatrical masks embellish the shell and mosaic fountain. Sculpted bronze civet heads spout streams of water from the central fountain.

The Getty Villa's Cafe serves casual, Mediterranean fare made from local, fresh ingredients. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. A coffee kiosk on site serves a variety of drinks and snacks. Its "Tea by the Sea" experience is inspired by the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that grow in the villa's authentically replicated first century Roman garden.

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1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California 90049, Phone: 310-440-7300

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