Horizon at Sandy Point

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Home for Antiquities

J Paul Getty is said to have started collecting pieces of ancient art at his home in Pacific Palisades from 1954. The Lansdowne Herakles which was a Roman sculpture in the style of Greece was one of his favourites. As he added to his collection, he commissioned a museum to be built on the land adjacent to his home.

The Getty Villa

Children in the peristyle

Designed by Robert E. Langdon and Ernest C Wilson Jr, the Getty Villa was opened in 1974 to accommodate the growing collection. It was never visited by Getty himself who died in 1976. The design of the villa was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri - an archaeological site in Herculaneum.

Heraklion (Herculaneum) on the west coast of Italy lies in the shadow of Vesuvius. It is thought to have been founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC. It came under Roman rule in 89 BC. When Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the town was buried under 20 metres of volcanic ash. It was barely disturbed again until the 1700s when excavations and mines found artifacts. Today, as much of 75 percent of Herculaneum may still be buried. Ercolano and Portici are the present-day Italian towns built on the site.

In 1993, Boston architects Rudolpho Machado and Jorge Silvetti were invited to renovate the museum. It was closed in 1997 and re-opened in 2006. The architectural plan was devised to simulate an archaeological dig. The amphitheatre has seen performances of Greek plays. Formal gardens and tree plantings on the slopes that surround the villa or descend to the sea are of flora that thrive in Greece or Italy.

Herakles welcomes you to the home of one of the largest collection of antiquities in America

Descending in the "dig"


The stage for Greek drama

The Getty Villa now houses over 44,000 pieces of art from Greece, Rome and Etruria, dating from 6500 BC to 400 AD. It houses the campus of the UÇLA/ Getty Masters programme in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation. It is visited daily (except Tuesday) by scores of school children.

The Lansdowne Herakles: start of Getty's early collection

Aphrodite and Dolphin

Riding a wineskin

Hermes and fan

Touch this marble: the only sculpture that the public is invited to touch

Stone and concrete frame this water garden

Papyrus and pond lilies

The Grape Arbor

The peristyle

Through every window

Walkway between parking and the entrance to the site

Temple of Venus

In the herb garden


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