During a recent weekend trip to Los Angeles, we enjoyed a fun one-day getaway in Malibu. Famous for its stunning beaches, surfing and celebrities, the area is also home to the beautiful Roman-inspired Getty Villa (the “other” Getty museum in L.A.) This one is dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The other Getty venue, located near downtown L.A., is more modern and houses European works of art. Both attractions are well worth the visit and make a fun day out.
Getty Villa Malibu
After touring the popular Getty Center Museum last year (and by the way, it’s incredible!), we couldn’t wait to see its sister museum, the Getty Villa, modeled after the luxurious ancient Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy. Its Roman-inspired architecture and magnificent gardens gives visitors the feeling of what a Roman villa was like 2,000 years ago.
Greek and Roman Antiquities
Getty Villa is filled with Greek and Roman Antiquities – from the Stone Age to the final days of the Roman Empire. In addition to its permanent collections, the Villa also offers Changing Exhibitions featuring works of art from around the world.
Arriving early (to make sure we got parking because we heard it fills up fast), we walked around the Villa and gardens. We took one of the Complimentary Garden Tours before it got too crowded. Tours are first come, first served. The 45-minute docent-led group tour takes visitors on a stroll through four of Getty Villa’s gardens – Outer Peristyle, Inner Peristyle, East Garden and the Herb Garden.
Each tour is unique and fascinating. We especially liked the Outer Peristyle with its formal gardens, bronze sculptures and magnificent 220-ft-long reflecting pool. As we strolled through the garden, we imagined what the Romans must have felt like partying and entertaining here. It’s such a surreal setting! Complimentary Collection Tours and Exhibition Tours are also offered. Be sure to stop by the Villa’s second level outdoor balcony, overlooking the Outer Peristyle Garden and Reflecting Pool… and beyond that, the Pacific Ocean. The view from that vantage point is breathtaking.
Lansdowne Herakles Sculpture
Take a self-guided tour around the Museum galleries. Ground level galleries are much smaller than those on the second floor. They seem to have more of an intimate feeling, like being in someone’s house vs a museum. Be sure to see one of J. Paul Getty’s most prized possessions in his collection – the Lansdowne Herakles sculpture. The Roman marble statue dates back to AD 125. It’s what inspired him to build the Museum in the style of an ancient Roman villa.
Getty Villa Cafe or Afternoon Tea
Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired food at Getty Villa’s Cafe. Or pack a picnic lunch. Garden Tea (sweet and savory afternoon tea) is available in the Founder’s Room (one level up from the Cafe) on Thursdays and Saturdays only. Reservations are required.
Be sure to check out the Getty Museum Store before you leave to shop for gifts and souvenirs. It’s located across from the Museum entrance, below the Cafe.
More Info on Getty Villa
Getty Villa is located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades. Admission is free and requires an advance timed-ticket entry. Parking is available for a fee and it’s recommended that you pay in advance when booking your ticket.
You may want to take any Villa Tours earlier in the day, especially during the Summer months when it gets hot and crowded. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking.
Anyone visited the Getty Villa recently?
If you had a choice of visiting the more modern Getty Center or the Getty Villa, which would you choose… and why?