Oil magnate J. Paul Getty used some of his vast wealth to amass an incredible art and antiquities collection, first displayed in his ranch house on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. In the early 70s, he had a Romanesque villa constructed next to his house to be a permanent museum for his collection. The Malibu Villa, modeled after the partially excavated Villa dei Papiri in Italy, became the home of the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1974. In 1997, the Getty Villa was closed and the collection was relocated to the new hill-top Getty Center in Brentwood (Los Angeles).
After a nine-year, $275 million renovation and expansion the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa re-opened in 2006 as home to the Museum’s Antiquities Collection. The Villa and gardens are familiar to those who visited in the past. The original building was stripped down to the bare framework and re-built as an earthquake-resistant, enhanced version of itself. The rest of the canyon was built up from bottom to top, covering the steep hillside with strata of wood-grained concrete and stone in a high-concept version of an archaeological dig.
They also added a new parking structure, Entry Pavilion, Outdoor Theater, Auditorium, expanded Café and Museum Store in the narrow canyon. If you’re not overly obsessed with architectural accuracy, you’ll be charmed by the updated Villa, despite its cramped quarters. Use this guide to get the most out of your visit.
Like the Getty Center, the Getty Villa is one of the Top Free Things to Do in LA.