We've talked about visiting the Getty Villa in Malibu since it reopened in 2006 but it requires advance planning - tickets are free but must be reserved in advance - and the timing was never quite right until now.
The museum is modeled after a first-century Roman villa from Herculaneum, Italy, that was buried during the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. When the new Getty Center was built in Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty's extensive collection was split up, with most of the items going to the new facility. The Villa now houses the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities that were originally displayed at Getty's ranch house, which is still on the property.
The Roman-inspired gardens and outdoor areas are beautiful. The ground floor of the Villa is open to the gardens, as a Roman Villa would have been. The "Inner Peristyle" features a reflecting pond and marble fountains.
The "Outer Peristyle" is the most impressive feature of the Getty. Your eye is drawn down the long reflecting pool to the ocean in the distance. Around the pool are statuary and plants the Romans would have grown, including iris - my favorite - and these flowers that smelled like hyacinths and looked so perfect, it was like they had been carved from wax. Most of the flowering plants were cut-back or dormant for the winter; I'd love to see this when all the roses are in bloom.
We didn't find the interior nearly as impressive as the gardens. The Villa comes across as cold and almost sterile. The architecture is beautiful, but there's no warmth. I think it's a combination of the stone floors, paint colors and the fact that there are no textiles; no rugs, tapestries or anything to take the edge off all the marble, pottery, and metal. Dick felt the same way, so it's not just me being a fiber-holic.
For me, the most interesting area was the collection of carved gemstones that were used as seals. They were so incredibly tiny and intricately detailed. I tried to get a photo but they were so small, and no flash was allowed, so this was the best I could do.
Overall, it was an interesting day and well-worth the time. The food in the cafeteria was fabulous, especially the persimmon, pear, apple, and cranberry tart we had just before leaving. Yum!Would we go back again? Probably not soon. I'd rather go to the Getty Center and see the tapestries.