The new display, which has been installed gallery by gallery over the past year, will allow visitors to experience the historical development of ancient art in the classical lands of Greece and the Roman Empire from the Neolithic Period through to the late Roman Empire (ca. 6000 BC – A.D. 600). The project has also involved upgraded lighting and display cases for many of the objects, and digital tools to facilitate close inspection of coins, gems, and other small items.
“The reinstallation of the Villa presents the antiquities collections in a historical sequence that allows visitors to follow the evolution of Greek and Roman art over some 6000 years,” Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The arts of classical antiquity were – as still today – deeply embedded in other aspects of ancient material culture, technology, religion, and history, and can only be appreciated in their full richness through an installation that brings these elements together. The Getty’s antiquities were collected for their quality as works of art, and it makes sense that their art historical significance be brought to the fore in our displays – as they are in the galleries which continue the story of European art at the Getty Center. We have made a special effort to highlight the masterpieces for which the Getty’s collection is so admired.”
Adds Potts, “I am particularly pleased that the process of planning this reinstallation has prompted us to explore the collection in greater depth, which in turn has led to identifying objects in storage that could be placed on view after many years, or in some cases for the very first time.”
An increase of 3,000 square feet in gallery space from the repurposing of underutilized areas has made it possible to feature a number of large and important objects from storage. Highlights include a group of newly-conserved first-century AD frescoes from the Villa of Numerius Popidius Florus at Boscoreale, near Pompeii, which will be shown in a dedicated gallery. Two large sky-lit galleries devoted to Roman sculpture will highlight a number of life- size and larger Roman works that have been off view in recent years, including the Statue of a Female Figure, which has been reunited with its recently acquired head. Also newly on view is a life-size bronze eagle, several superb portrait busts, and three richly ornamented cornice blocks from a first-century BC temple or public building in Rome.
A major highlight of the reinstallation is a newly renovated gallery on the first floor dedicated to the age of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic world (336-30 BC). The centerpiece of this installation is The Victorious Youth (“Getty Bronze”), which can now be better appreciated for the masterpiece it is in the context of other objects of the same period and style, including a marble Head of Alexander the Great and groups of gold jewelry and luxurious silver vessels.
A new feature is the Etruscan gallery, which includes sculpture, vases, bronze statuettes, jewelry, and carved amber, all of exceptional quality. Other new galleries will be devoted to Athenian pottery, a special strength of the collection, and to the Getty’s important collection of Greek works from Southern Italy and Sicily, including the remarkable terracotta group, Orpheus and Sirens. The Getty’s collection of Roman gold and silver vessels, figurines, and jewelry will be displayed in the Roman Treasury, along with engraved gems and cameos and two superb selections of Roman gold coins and medallions, on loan from private collections.In addition, one first floor gallery will be dedicated to presenting “The Classical World in Context” through long-term loans from international museums of works representing the cultures that engaged and interacted with ancient Greece and Rome, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Phoenicia. The first display in this gallery will be Palmyra: Loss and Remembrance, presenting a selection of highly important funerary relief portraits from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. These famous works are the most vivid demonstration of how ancient Palmyra’s cosmopolitan culture interweaved Greek, Roman, and Persian elements.
Other new features of the reinstallation are a gallery dedicated to objects with interesting collecting histories dating back to the Renaissance; displays detailing the life and legacy of J. Paul Getty as collector; and a room devoted to the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, the spectacular Roman home that served as the model for the Getty Villa.
The new installation also features a relocated Family Forum, and upgraded lighting and WiFi throughout the galleries. The outer peristyle pool, which was emptied to conserve water during California’s drought, is currently undergoing maintenance and will reopen in early 2018.
Opening Image: Gallery 108: Temple of Hercules; Photo: © 2018 J. Paul Getty Trust
The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California. Same-day parking at both Museum locations (Getty Center and Getty Villa) is available for $15 through the Getty’s Pay Once, Park Twice program