20220821_122455Outer peristyle (August 2022)

While driving the famed Highway 1 in California, one cannot leave Los Angeles without paying a visit to the Getty Villa. Nestled just at the border of Malibu in the Pacific Palisades, the Getty Villa is a hidden, yet not-so-hidden gem to check out for its vast collection of Greek and Roman artifacts. Even if you’re not an avid museum-goer, it’s a beautiful cultural arts center to visit for its European sensibilities in its architectural design.

The Getty Villa was the brainchild of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who built it as his second museum to the Getty Museum in 1954. It first opened its doors in 1974, before closing for remodeling in 1997 and reopening in 2006. Since then, it has been a popular tourist draw, with half a million visitors– domestic and international– attending each year.

Besides housing over 40,000 artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome, the Getty Villa is built to replicate the villas of ancient Rome, from the gardens to fountains to courtyards in its almost-10,000 squared meters of land. Its inner and outer peristyles are constantly crowded, their well-kept hedges and milky-blue pools an opportunity for photographers– amateur and professional– to capture for their portfolio (or Instagram). The villa is the ideal spot for family outings and romantic dates to enjoy the stunning views and stroll through the gardens– and perhaps to take a perfect photo as a keepsake.

20220821_114309Replica of Pompeii-inspired fountain

20220821_121635Mini-photo shoot

I visited the Getty Villa on two occasions: the first time was in 2015, and the second time just recently over this summer. Whereas I’d first gone with my friends from university, the second time was with my partner– both times were enjoyable, as it was a matter of going gallery to gallery and checking out the various antiquities on display. Although I’m not much of a museum-goer, it was the company I went with on both occasions which made it a lot of fun.

Highlights of the museum include the inner and outer peristyles (which as previously mentioned are inundated with tourists), the herb garden, and the Lansdowne Herakles replica. These are musts to check out at the villa, but I would also take the time to delve into the dozen or so galleries with lesser-known artifacts. My personal favorites have been the stone reliefs with faces sticking their tongues out and the urn with a domesticated cat.

20220821_123915Herb garden

20220821_115140Herakles statue

20220821_115022πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

20220821_114702Youth playing with cat

The Getty Villa has had its fair share of controversy over the years. One main complaint comes from the Greek and Italian governments, which have accused American collectors of stealing the artifacts and are demanding them to be repatriated. There’s also the issue of having a museum with replicas and authenticity being dubious at times. The thing is, I think it’s important to look past whether the Getty Villa is a “good” art museum or not, and to remind ourselves that it was founded by an oil tycoon for his own art-collecting pleasure. Very much a monetary incentive, and it’s definitely something to keep in mind when exploring the museum.

Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but you need to pay for parking ($20 USD flat-rate). It’s also important to reserve your timed tickets online in order to get in, as there’s no ticket office upon arrival. The Getty Villa is also quite the drive out there, for it’s in the northwest corner of Los Angeles County. All the same, for a day out in town, the Getty Villa is a worthwhile stop for those interested in Greek and Roman relics, and to experience that European flair against the backdrop of sunny, California weather.

20220821_123638View of the Pacific Ocean

Thanks for reading– have a wonderful day! πŸ™‚

— Rebecca

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54 thoughts on “Lost in LA: The Getty Villa

  1. I agree that the Getty Museum is something to see in LA. There are other successful business-funded collections, but the replica of an ancient Roman villa adds something to the experience. In Europe, usually only the foundations and mosaics are found, but having the whole thing reconstructed, walls and gardens, really adds something to the knowledge of the ancient world. I have been there twice, the conditions of access change with time, I remember that to get in for free, you had to show a bus ticket, to prove that your car was not parked in the area in order to protect the neighbourhood.

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    1. I know the Getty Villa is your favorite, and it’s true that despite the controversy surrounding it, it still remains a popular and educational spot to learn about ancient Greece and Rome…without having to fly thousands of miles to see the sites! Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

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  2. I’ve been to the Getty Center and hope to visit the Getty Villa one day, too, if I can manage to get tickets, that is! πŸ˜‚ They sell out so fast for both places! Your pictures of Getty Villa are beautiful. I’m drawn to the Greek and Roman relics! How much time is needed to see everything at a leisurely pace?

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    1. I think if you book tickets at least a week in advance, you should be fine! Personally, I think you only need a couple of hours at the Getty Villa, perhaps half a day if you really take your time with each gallery and each relic…still a fun time spent all the same, and Malibu’s just a short drive away to spend the remainder of the day!

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  3. What a place- quite the coming together of history, imagination and money. I love that it’s there to be enjoyed by all now, without an entrance fee.

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  4. Hey Rebecca, I’m sorry if you received this comment twice; the wifi at the hotel were in is really bad, and I’m not sure my first comment was ever posted. Anyway, I enjoyed your post! I have been to the Getty Museum, but have not heard of the Getty Villa. We’ll have to visit next time we’re in LA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got this comment, don’t worry! To be fair, it’s been ages since I went to the Getty Museum and have no recollection of it, so it merits a return one of these days! Hope you can return to LA to see the Villa!

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  5. Thanks for the tour around the Getty Villa, Rebecca! This place is just beautiful! The recreation of the Roman Villa is spectacular, and I can’t believe that I’ve never even heard of it as I love places that have exhibits, presentation, architectural spaces and the gardens all in one place. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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  6. They’ve seemingly crafted a really picturesque place here. It’s amazing what you can put together with ridiculous amounts of money. Sladja would be all over this and not too concerned about it being in The U.S. We’ve seen plenty of Greek and Roman art across Europe, this would be another interesting collection I’m sure. A high number of replicas is a bit of a concern I guess, as is the question of where authentic artefacts really belong. Makes me think of that podcast, ‘Stuff The British Stole’. Thanks for giving us another thing to scribble onto our L.A. to-do list.

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    1. Yup, when you’re loaded, you can do pretty much anything! Including building a Roman villa replica…I’m not much for podcasts, but you got me hooked on the title of that one: I’ll have to check it out someday!

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  7. Oh Rebecca, this looks like my kind of place! I wouldn’t mind being lost here; it’s so beautiful, and I love your mini-photo shoot; you look lovely and so deep in thought. πŸ’•

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    1. Very true. It’s one thing if the respective country/culture lends an artifact for display internationally, but it’s another to have had that artifact looted and/or stolen beforehand. Things get muddy with the history of archaelogy and excavation, but I believe that, if the artifact had belonged to the present-day country and its historic culture, the artifact is entitled to them. Just my two cents!

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  8. It looks like a lovely place, though museums are getting increasingly more called out on the origins of their pieces. There was just so much stolen (the parthenon marbles make me feel really uncomfortable when I visit The British Museum) that you wonder if it should now all be returned. A beautiful place though.

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    1. Yes, that’s the uncomfortable thought I have whenever I visit museums now. It’s a daunting task to have EVERYTHING repatriated to each respective country, but it ought to be strongly considered– at least for the Getty Villa, it can still retain its Roman flair without the artifacts and be used as a venue instead!

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  9. Great post! I’m actually headed to LA at the end of the month (yaaaay!!) so this comes in perfectly! I still don’t know what our itinerary will be but it seems like a great place to check out! Thanks for sharing!

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