The other campus of the J. Paul Getty Museum is the famous oil tycoon’s former home, built in 1974 on the edge of a Malibu bluff with dazzling ocean views. Modeled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy, a first-century Roman country house buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it’s a fitting home for the collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts. More than 1,200 works, dating from 6500 b.c. to a.d. 400, occupy 23 galleries arranged by theme (Gods and Goddesses, Monsters and Minor Dieties …), while six more galleries host changing exhibitions. Displays range from everyday items such as coins and jewelry to modern interactive exhibits illustrating key moments in ancient Mediterranean history. To fully appreciate the remarkable collection, pick up the multimedia GettyGuide (photo ID required) on the first floor.
Highlights include “Statue of a Victorious Youth,” a large-scale bronze discovered in an Adriatic shipwreck that is kept in a climate-controlled room to preserve the metal (it’s one of the few surviving life-size Greek bronzes), and a beautiful 450-seat open-air theater where visitors are encouraged to take a break. Among the museum’s related performances, lectures and other activities, the classical outdoor theater presents either a Greek comedy or tragedy every September; it staged Aeschylus’ “Persians” in 2014. The Villa’s education team keeps kids engaged with art-related activities such as making a mosaic with an artist in a hands-on space called the Family Forum.