“One could say, ‘Go to Pompeii and Herculaneum and see Roman villas the way they are now – then go to Malibu and see the way they were in ancient times.'”J. Paul Getty, Los Angeles Times, 1974
The Getty Villa was the brainchild of J. Paul Getty (1892-1976), who made his fortune in oil and was an enthusiastic collector of art and antiquities.
In 1970, he decided to turn his Malibu ranch, which had been the home of his art collection since the late 1940s, into a villa based on the Villa dei Papiri – a villa near Herculaneum which was destroyed in 79AD in the eruption of Vesuvius.
Getty was closely involved in the project and you can see so much of his fascination with Ancient Greece and Rome – you even approach the Villa from above, like you are visiting the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The museum opened in 1974, but sadly, Getty didn’t get to see the finished piece. He passed away in 1976 at his estate in England.
J. Paul Getty, Joys of Collecting, 1965
“The collector can, at will, transport himself back in time and walk and talk with the great Greek philosophers, the emperors of Ancient Rome, the people, great and small, of civilisations long dead, which live again through the objects in his collection.”
The Getty Villa is an incredible space that, much like somewhere like the Gardner Museum, you feel the presence of the collector and their extraordinary vision everywhere you look
Find out more about the Villa here.