A recreation of an ancient Roman country house, the Getty Villa offers a taste of life in the first century A.D.
A Roman Villa Recreated—early 1970s
The Getty Villa is modeled after a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy.
The building was constructed in the early 1970s by architects who worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the interior and exterior details.
Buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, much of the Villa dei Papiri remains unexcavated. Therefore, architects based many of the Museum's architectural and landscaping details on elements from other ancient Roman houses in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae.
Gardens are integral to the setting of the Getty Villa, as they were in the ancient Roman home, and include herbs and shrubs inspired by those grown in ancient Roman homes for food and ceremony.
The Getty Villa Reimagined—1996
Renovation of the Getty Villa began in 1996. Visitors now start their visit in a spectacular open-air Entry Pavilion, then progress along a scenic pathway to the heart of the site. With each building at a slightly different elevation, visitors experience the site as an archaeological excavation, every perspective offering new discoveries.
Visitors' first view of the Villa is through the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. This 500-seat outdoor classical theater was also created based on ancient prototypes, and links the Cafe, Museum Store, and Auditorium to the J. Paul Getty Museum entrance.
The renovation incorporated modern designs that harmonize with the Getty Villa's original style. Wood, bronze, glass, travertine, and wood-formed concrete echo the Villa's materials. In addition to the Entry Pavilion, a new staircase was installed, and galleries were renovated with details inspired by Roman and modern models. Skylights and windows were installed to fill the space with light.