Getty Villa

Getty Villa
Established 1954, reopened 2006
Location 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California
Coordinates 34°02′42″N 118°33′50″W / 34.045053°N 118.563824°W / 34.045053; -118.563824
Type Art museum
Collection size 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities
Visitors 405,710 in 2010[1]
Director Timothy Potts
Public transit access

Note: Ticket must be punched by bus operator in order to enter the Getty Villa

The Getty Villa is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Located at the southerly end of the Malibu coast in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA,[2] the Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The collection has 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD, including the Lansdowne Heracles and the Victorious Youth. The UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation is housed on this campus. The collection is documented and presented through the online GettyGuide as well as through audio tours.


The entrance to the Getty Villa sets the tone of entering an archaeological dig.

In 1954, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty opened a gallery adjacent to his home in Pacific Palisades.[3][4][5] Quickly running out of room, he built a second museum, the Getty Villa, on the property down the hill from the original gallery.[4][6] The villa design was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum[6] and incorporated additional details from several other ancient sites. It was designed by architects Robert E. Langdon, Jr. and Ernest C. Wilson, Jr. in consultation with archeologist Norman Neuerburg.[7][8] It opened in 1974,[9] but was never visited by Getty, who died in 1976.[5] Following his death, the museum inherited $661 million[10] and began planning a much larger campus, the Getty Center, in nearby Brentwood. The museum overcame neighborhood opposition to its new campus plan by agreeing to limit the total size of the development on the Getty Center site.[11] To meet the museum's total space needs, the museum decided to split between the two locations with the Getty Villa housing the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.[11] In 1993, the Getty Trust selected Rodolpho Machado and Jorge Silvetti to design the renovation of the Getty Villa and its campus.[11] In 1997, portions of the museum's collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities were moved to the Getty Center for display, and the Getty Villa was closed for renovation.[12] The collection was restored during the renovation.[9]

Starting in 2004, the museum and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) hold summer institutes in Turkey, studying the conservation of Middle Eastern Art.[13]

Reopened on January 28, 2006, the Getty Villa shows Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities within Roman-inspired architecture and surrounded by Roman-style gardens.[14] The art is arranged by themes, e.g., Gods and Goddesses, Dionysos and the Theater, and Stories of the Trojan War.[14] The new architectural plan surrounding the Villa – which was conceived by Boston architects Machado and Silvetti Associates (who were also responsible for the plans for the renovated museum) – is designed to simulate an archaeological dig. Architectural Record has praised their work on the Getty Villa as "a near miracle – a museum that elicits no smirks from the art world.... a masterful job... crafting a sophisticated ensemble of buildings, plazas, and landscaping that finally provides a real home for a relic of another time and place."[15]

There has been controversy surrounding the Greek and Italian governments' claim that objects in the collection were looted and should be repatriated.[16] In 2006, the Getty returned or promised to return four looted objects to Greece: a stele (grave marker), a marble relief, a gold funerary wreath, and a marble statue.[17] In 2007, the Getty signed an agreement to return 40 looted items to Italy.[18][19]

Facility and programs

The inner peristyle

Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but timed tickets must be obtained in advance via phone or the museum's website. As of June 2010, there is a $15.00 charge for parking during the day, but parking is free for evening performances. The museum is open Wednesday to Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and on New Year's Day (January 1), July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas (December 25).[20]

The Getty Villa hosts live performances in both its indoor auditorium and its outdoor theatre. Indoor play-readings included The Trojan Women, Aristophanes' The Frogs, and Euripides' Helen.[21] Indoor musical performances, which typically relate to art exhibits, included: Musica Angelica, De Organographia, and Songs from the Fifth Age: Sones de México in Concert.[22] The auditorium also held a public reading of Homer's Iliad.[23] Outdoor performances included Aristophanes' Peace, Aeschylus's Agamemnon, and Sophocles' Elektra.[24] The Getty Villa also hosts visiting exhibitions beyond its own collections. For example, in March 2011 "In Search of Biblical Lands" was a photographic exhibition which included scenes of the Middle East dating back to the 1840s.[25]

The Getty Villa offers special educational programs for children. A special Family Forum gallery offers activities including decorating Greek vases and projecting shadows onto a screen that represents a Greek urn. The room also has polystyrene props from Greek and Roman culture for children to handle and use to cast shadows. The Getty Villa also offers children's guides to the other exhibits.[26][27]

The Getty Conservation Institute offers a Master’s Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation in association with the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. Classes and research are conducted in the museum wing of the ranch house. The program was the first of its kind in the United States.[28]


Aerial view of Getty Villa (building with red roof at center right) and surrounding area.

The Villa self-identifies with Malibu as it is located just east of the city limits of Malibu in the city of Los Angeles in the community of Pacific Palisades.[12][29][30][31][32][33] The 64 acres (26 ha) museum complex sits on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which is about 100 feet (30 m) from the entrance to the property. An outdoor 2,500-square-foot (230 m2) entry pavilion is also built into the hill near the 248-car, four story, South Parking garage at the southern end of the Outer Peristyle.[34] The Outer Peristyle is a formal garden with roses and English ivy that includes a number of Roman sculptures. To the west of the Outer Peristyle is an herb garden. Beneath the Outer Peristyle is the Central Parking Garage. To the west of the Museum is a 450-seat outdoor Greek theater where evening performances are staged, named in honor of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman.[34] The theater faces the west side of the Villa and uses its entrance as a stage.[35] To the northwest of the theatre is a three-story, 15,500-square-foot (1,440 m2) building built into the hill that contains the museum store on the lower level, a cafe on the second level, and a private dining room on the top level.[36] North of the Villa is a 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) indoor 250 seat auditorium.[34] On the hill above the museum are Getty's original private ranch house and the museum wing that Getty added to his home in 1954. They are now used for curatorial offices, meeting rooms and as a library.[4] Although not open to the public, the campus includes J. Paul Getty's grave on the hill behind his ranch house.[37] A 200-car North Parking Garage is behind the ranch complex. The 105,500-square-foot (9,800 m2) museum building is arranged in a square opening into the Inner Peristyle courtyard. The 2006 museum renovation added 58 windows facing the Inner Peristyle and a retractable skylight over the atrium.[15] It also replaced the terrazzo floors in the galleries and added seismic protection with new steel reinforcing beams and new isolators in the bases of statues and display cases.[9] The museum has 48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2) of gallery space.[34][38]

Architectural critic Calum Storrie describes the overall effect:

What the Getty Villa achieves, first by seclusion, then by control of access, and ultimately through the architecture, is a sense of detachment from its immediate environment.[39]


Victorious Youth, part of the museum's collection

The collection has 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD.[40] Among the outstanding items is Victorious Youth, one of few life-size Greek bronze statues to have survived to modern times.[6][41] The Lansdowne Heracles is a Hadrianic Roman sculpture in the manner of Lysippus.[42] The Villa also has jewelry and coin collections[16] and an extensive 20,000 volume library of books covering art from these periods.[43] The Villa also displays the Getty kouros, which the museum lists as "Greek, about 530 B.C., or modern forgery" because scientific analysis is inconclusive as to whether the marble statue can be dated to Greek times.[35][44] If genuine, the Getty kouros is one of only twelve remaining intact lifesize kouroi.[45] The Marbury Hall Zeus is a 81 in (2.1 m) tall marble statue that was recovered from ruins at Tivoli near Rome.[46]


Detailed information about the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection at the Getty Villa is provided on "GettyGuide". This is available both at the Museum, at various points known as "GettyGuide stations", and externally on its website.[47]



  1. "Snapshot: Visits to the Getty". Getty Center. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  2. "About the Museum (Getty Museum)". Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  3. Storrie at p. 186.
  4. 1 2 3 "Architecture". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  5. 1 2 Bird, Cricket (June 10, 1976). "Getty Never Saw Fabulous Museum". Lewiston [Maine] Evening Journal. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  6. 1 2 3 Ray, Derek (February 11, 2011). "The Getty Center and the Getty Villa". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  7. Myrna Oliver, Robert Langdon Jr., 86; Designed 1st Getty Museum, The Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2004
  8. Grad student unearths architect’s drawings for Getty exhibition, USC School of Architecture: School News, July 05, 2013
  9. 1 2 3 Moltesen at p. 155.
  10. Lenzner, Robert. The great Getty: the life and loves of J. Paul Getty, richest man in the world. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985. ISBN 0-517-56222-7
  11. 1 2 3 Filler at 215.
  12. 1 2 Schultz, Patricia (2003). One thousand places to see before you die. Workman Publishing. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-7611-0484-1.
  13. "UCLA and Getty Museum Hold Summer Institute in Turkey". UCLA. 2004-09-23. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  14. 1 2 Moltesen at 157.
  15. 1 2 Pearson, Clifford A. (May 2006). "Machado and Silvetti creates an elaborate new setting that shows off the renovated Getty Villa without irony or apologies". Architectural Record. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  16. 1 2 Rogers, John (January 27, 2006). "Getty Museum reopening its much renovated villa". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  17. Carassava, Anthee. Greeks Hail Getty Museum’s Pledge to Return Treasures. New York Times, December 12, 2006. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  18. Povoledo, Elisabetta. Italy and Getty Sign Pact on Artifacts. New York Times, September 26, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  19. Filler at p. 221–23.
  20. "Hours, Directions, Parking". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  21. "Villa Play–Reading Series". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  22. "Concerts at the Villa". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  23. "Public Reading of Homer's Iliad". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  24. "Getty Villa Outdoor Theater Production". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  25. "Calendar Picks and Clicks". Jewish Journaldate=March 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  26. "Family Forum". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  27. Moltesen at p. 156.
  28. "Getty Villa Press Kit" (PDF). Getty Trust. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  29. E.g., Storrie at p. 186; Moltesen at p. 155.
  30. Greenberg, Mark (December 2005). Guide to the Getty Villa. Getty Trust. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-89236-828-0.
  31. "Visit the Getty". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  32. reads "The Getty Villa in Malibu…"
  33. Jaffee, Matthew (May 2007). "Posh Pacific Palisades". Sunset magazine. Archived from the original on Nov 24, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  34. 1 2 3 4 "Fact Sheet" (PDF). Getty Trust. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  35. 1 2 Filler at p. 221.
  36. Filler at p. 220
  37. Patricia Brooks, Jonathan Brooks (2006). Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous. Globe Pequot. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-7627-4101-4. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  38. Map & Guide to the Getty Villa, Getty Trust, May 2010
  39. Storrie at p. 187
  40. "Art on View (Visit the Getty)". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  41. "Victorious Youth". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  42. "Lansdowne Herakles". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  43. "Research Libraries". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  44. "Statue of a Kouros". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  45. Robert Bianchi, "Saga of The Getty Kouros", Archaeology (May/June 1994).
  46. "Marbury Hall Zeus". Getty Trust. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  47. GettyGuide - Retrieved September 3, 2008.


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