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Getty Villa reopens with shiny new galleries for its ancient art




The central pool at the Getty Villa splashes with water again. The pool was drained in 2014 because of drought conditions.
The central pool at the Getty Villa splashes with water again. The pool was drained in 2014 because of drought conditions.
Leo Duran/KPCC

All of the galleries at the Getty Villa are now open after three years of planning and renovations. The Pacific Palisades institution recently upgraded its space, and reconfigured its collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan art so it can be better appreciated by visitors.

The Victorious Youth, for example, is a gallant bronze statue that's now the centerpiece of a room featuring other pieces of art dated around 330 to 30 BC.

"The Victorious Youth," a bronze Greek statue, ca 300–100 B.C., on display at the Getty Villa.
The J Paul Getty Museum

"Stylistically, they speak to each other," says Timothy Potts, director of the J Paul Getty Museum. "It allows the real masterpieces in this collection to stand out more clearly. It's by seeing The Victorious Youth in the context of other sculptures of the same period you can literally see the qualities, and what differentiates it from some of the other works."

The renovations also added 3,000 square feet of gallery space, which allowed more room to show various pieces.

Some have never been seen by the public before, such as a set of first-century frescos from a villa near Pompei.

"This building was built as a copy of a very famous villa that was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD," says Potts. "No other museum in the world has an ancient collection of Greek and Roman art [like these frescos] in exactly the kind of building that they were meant to be shown in."

Three frescos excavated from a 1st century villa near Pompeii are on display for the first time ever at the Getty Villa.
Three frescos excavated from a 1st century villa near Pompeii are on display for the first time ever at the Getty Villa.
The J Paul Getty Museum

The museum hopes to reinvigorate Angelenos' appreciation for classic antiquities with these renovations.

"As long as there's an interest in the ancient world," says Potts, "there really will be a place for the Getty Villa and other museums like this around the world."

Throughout this weekend, the Getty Villa will also host free events to celebrate the galleries' full reopening, from a short comedic opera of Homer's Odyssey to making seed balls in the Villa's Herb Garden. Find more information here.