Getty Villa

Getty Villa and reflecting pool

Nothing money can't buy

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round. Or not, if you're stuck in traffic. Last Thursday I went to see the newly re-opened Getty Villa museum in Malibu with friend Bob and two of his friends. Traffic was very heavy, going and coming back, so the bus ride was longer than usual.

J Paul Getty built the Villa to house his art collection, much of which consisted of Greek and Roman antiquities. Thus he thought to build his museum in the form of a Roman villa. Eventually, much of the collection was moved to a new Getty Museum, and the villa was renovated, beginning in 1997 and reopened in 2006, expanded and devoted to just the antiquities. The Villa is nestled in the hills of Malibu, near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard.

Oh my! It's impossible for me, a poor farm kid from Minnesota, to imagine having so much money as to be able to amass such an enormous collection of objets d'art, much less build a museum to house it and an endowment to keep it public and free in perpetuity.


By coincidence, I think, our visit coincided with the opening of a temporary exhibition of mosaics on loan from the National Museum of Tunisia. These were simply stunning. I was in awe of the ability to create subtle shadings and details just from bits of colored stone. Many of the pieces exhibited, which themselves were quite big, were accompanied by photographs showing the piece in its original location, revealing that it was often just a small part of a floor, for example, in one room of some ancient public building.

The Victorious Youthmermaid with chicken feet

Other galleries were devoted to subjects like gods and goddesses, luxury vessels, coins, funerary sculpture, and so on. Each held absolute treasures.

For more pictures, see the slideshow.