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The Getty Villa Reimagined The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, January 28–May 8, 2006

March 16, 2006

LOS ANGELES—The renovated Getty Villa in Malibu opened on January 28, 2006 with an inaugural exhibition that looks back on the Villa’s history and traces the vision that guided the development of the new site.  The Getty Villa Reimagined, at the Getty Villa, January 28–May 8, 2006, offers insight into how the Villa was transformed, from the selection of the architects, to the planning and research, through construction and completion.  Designed to suggest an architect’s workspace, the exhibition features sketchbooks, models, and drawings developed by Machado and Silvetti Associates, Inc., who led the design team, as well as videos and photographs that document the development of the reimagined, classically inspired Getty Villa.

The Getty Villa Reimagined is one of three inaugural exhibitions marking the return of this cultural landmark as an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.  The Getty Villa serves a varied audience through the permanent collection, changing exhibitions, conservation, scholarship, research, and public programs. 

The other two opening exhibitions are Antiquity & Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites (January 28–May 1, 2006), sponsored by Merrill Lynch with additional support from the Getty Villa Council, which explores the efforts of early photographers to record and interpret sites and monuments of the classical world, and Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity, which celebrates the recent acquisition of more than 350 pieces of beautiful and rare ancient glass from the Oppenländer collection.  These presentations mark the beginning of a year-round schedule of changing exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa that will spotlight different aspects of art, culture, and life in the ancient past and its relevance to the modern world.  These exhibitions, featuring loans from public and private collections worldwide, will complement the permanent collection of antiquities installed thematically in the Museum’s 23 renovated galleries.

The Getty Villa Reimagined provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the Villa was renovated to create an environment in which the buildings and landscape reinforce one another to evoke the classical world.  On view are sketchbooks from the original competition for the commission, along with architectural models and early design development drawings, and personal sketches and notes made by various members of the design team.  Also included are early photographs of the site, originally purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1945, and of sites around the world, which provided inspiration for the renovation.  Videos offer aerial views of the Villa under construction, document the installation of works in the renovated galleries, and capture conversations with the architects, Museum staff, and construction crew for a broad perspective on the collaborative design process.

The new vision for the Getty Villa began to take shape in 1993, when a select group of international architects was invited to offer ideas and proposals for the reorganization of the site.  The innovative design competition required participants to use only sketchbooks to articulate their vision.  On view in the exhibition are the actual sketchbooks submitted by the competing firms, including a reproduction of the winning entry from Boston-based Machado and Silvetti Associates, Inc., allowing visitors to see the range of architectural possibilities the original site inspired.

Following the selection of Machado and Silvetti, the architects and Museum staff undertook a period of intensive collaborative research and study.  They visited the excavated cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, and also drew inspiration from European museums, including the Pompejanum in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The detailed sketches and observation notes made on these trips were used as reference guides by the design team during the project.

 As the renovation work continued, the sketches, photographs, and models used hinted at the final form the transformed Getty Villa would take.  They also reflected changes, as ideas were refined. To envision the concept of the J. Paul Getty Museum building as an artifact discovered in an archaeological dig, the architects produced drawings placing it within both an unexcavated and excavated site.  Sketches were also made of the new strata wall feature to work out the exact details of the many horizontal layers that would make up the walls found throughout the site, uniting new and existing structures.

Drawings were produced to study all proposed additions to the site, from the Entry Pavilion to the dramatic, 450-seat Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater—an outdoor classical theater based on ancient prototypes, which fits discreetly into the canyon’s natural slope.  The main architectural feature added inside the J. Paul Getty Museum—the grand East Stair—is represented by sketches and a model.  Also on view are renderings of various floor patterns, and color studies and samples for the Villa’s walls and floors.  The decorative sconces and chandeliers, conceived by the architects as part of the design concept for the Museum, can also be seen in their early stages as sketches, along with drawings of exhibition furniture and designs of display cases.

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Tracy Gilbert    
Getty Communications Dept.

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.