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California Culture Photography

The Getty Villa

Efforts to find culture were renewed this long weekend, as we headed to the Getty Villa in Malibu — the museum J. Paul Getty built to house the items of his collection that belong to antiquity. The place itself was built to resemble the Villa dei Papyri, the Villa where they invented Papyrus font. No, no, not really — it was a villa near Mount Vesuvius where they found a bunch of papyrus scrolls.

The Villa does a brilliant job of adding context to the collection pieces. A visitor can easily picture the life led by those lucky enough to live in these type of villas and have busts made in their liking (you know, the 1% of antiquity).

I was honestly disappointed by the Architecture Tour, and although the guide was a lovely older gentleman who apparently is somehow related to J. Paul Getty, there were few if any of the more intricate architectural details we were hoping for, like exactly what type of columns, marbles, etc, were used, or which styles were more Roman or Greek (my archeology professor would’ve been proud). I guess I shouldn’t complain about a free tour.

We checked out The Victorious Youth — one of the last remaining bronze statues from antiquity (the others were melted along that wrecked path of time and used for bullets and other weaponry in different wars). The statue was found at sea off the coast of Italy in 1964, and purchased by the museum. The controversy behind the Victorious Youth is that Italy wants it back alleging that former curators of the museum were trafficking stolen antiques.

Regardless, the Getty Villa is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon, imagining the life you could’ve led (or perhaps you did lead if you believe in reincarnation) while a rich Roman in 500 B.C. Coupled with the vast collection of art, glass, jewelry, and even mummies, it’s definitely worth the $15 parking fee. The Villa itself is technically free, although you do need to reserve tickets in advance and print them out.

I still feel we didn’t check it all out, and we had to hurry through at the end, so I’m looking forward to going back again.

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