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The Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The estate contains antiquities arranged by themes including Gods and Goddesses, Dionysos and the Theater, Stories of the Trojan War and Roman-inspired architecture and gardens
The Getty Villa is modeled after a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy. The J. Paul Getty Museum building was constructed in the early 1970s by the architectural firm of Langdon and Wilson. Architectural consultant Norman Neuerburg worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the interior and exterior details.
The Villa dei Papiri was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, and much of it remains unexcavated. Therefore, Neuerburg based many of the Museum's architectural and landscaping details on elements from other ancient Roman houses in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiaefrom bronze lanterns like those carried along the streets of Pompeii to herbs and shrubs grown by the Romans for food and ceremony.
Boston-based architects Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti began renovating the Getty Villa site in 1997. Visitors now start their visit in a spectacular open-air Entry Pavilion, then progress along a scenic pathway to the heart of the site, the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater.
This 450-seat outdoor classical theater, based on ancient prototypes, links the new Cafe, Museum Store, and Auditorium to the J. Paul Getty Museum entrance.
Machado and Silvetti created modern designs that harmonize with the Getty Villa's original style. Wood, bronze, glass, travertine, and wood-formed concrete echo the Villa's materials.
To preserve the lush setting, they placed the Auditorium underground and nestled part of the Cafe, Museum Store, and new parking structure for visitors into the terraced hillside.
With each building at a slightly different elevation, visitors experience the site as an archaeological excavation, every perspective offering new discoveries.
Machado and Silvetti also created a new main entrance to the Museum through the Atrium, the traditional entryway to a typical Roman home. Inside the Museum are new and renovated terrazzo floors and other interior details inspired by both Roman and modern models. New skylights and windows onto the Atrium and Inner Peristyle fill the galleries with natural light.
A grand marble staircase connects the two floors of the Museum building, leading visitors to the changing exhibition galleries on Floor 2.
North of the Museum is the Ranch House, the location of the original J. Paul Getty Museum. It has been renovated to house antiquities curatorial offices, meeting rooms, and the 20,000-volume Research Library. The UCLA/Getty Master's Program on the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Materials is the first program of its kind in the United States and is also located in the North Campus. Offices, conservation labs, and classrooms around the adjacent courtyard provide a gathering spot for conservators, students, and scholars participating in the Villa Scholars' Program. The Scholars' Program has an annual theme that serves as a focus for research and programs. A distinguished figure in the field is honored as Villa Professor each year and collaborates with Getty staff responsible for the intellectual direction of the program.