Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getty Villa- January 12

This is a pretty awesome museum. The whole afternoon we were there I felt transported back to the ancient areas of Greece, Rome and Etruria. Even the setting lends itself to that feeling of ancient antiquity. Getty had this museum built in a small canyon with the coastal mountains to its north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The museum he built to house his collection of antiquities was modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country home in Heculaneum, Italy, which was buried by the eruption of Mt.Vesuvius in AD 79. Shortly after arriving at the museum we took the garden tour with a docent. She pointed out the features of the villa and gardens which harks back to ancient Rome. After walking through an atrium, which has a ceiling open to light and air, we stepped into the inner peristyle. This area has formal gardens with bronze replicas of statues found at the Villa dei Papiri. Going through an archway leads to the outer gardens and peristyle shown here. In the pond is a satyr reclining in the water. He looks like some heavy imbibing of wine made him quite happy!

The outer peristyle is a covered walkway on both sides of the gardens. Here we found Corinthian columns  decorated with the curling leaves of the acanthus plant.We also could view the coffered ceiling and geometirc patterns on the walls which are very typical of ancient Rome.

All of the gardens have only plant species from the Mediterranean area. Ancient Rome used herbs a lot to make their homes smell good, and also used them for eating and medicinal purposes. I found the rosemary hedge to be an interesting plant. The picture I have here is of the herb garden (our son Mike is standing there), and behind him is a papyrus plant. The other picture is in the East Garden. The colorful fountain is decorated with shells and theater masks.

The art galleries inside the villa cover two floors. The antiquities collection dates from 6,500 BC to AD 400. It contains monumental sculptures as well as artifacts from everyday life as vases, coins and jewelry.  It is easy to tour the galleries without feeling overwhelmed because they are organized according to themes. There are rooms dedicated  to the Gods and Goddesses, Monsters and Minor Deities, Temple of Herakles, and Mythological Heroes- to name a few. The statue of the Lansdowne Herakles was impressive, it was one of J.Paul Getty's most prized possessions and inspired him to build the Villa museum.

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