Despite the heavy traffic on the 405, the 10, and Pacific Coast Highway, my friend and I arrived early at the Getty Villa for the 7:00 pm lecture on Mérida: The Archaeological Discovery of Augusta Emerita, a Roman Capital in Spain.
The café was open so my friend was able to purchase a glass of wine, coffee for me, and a delicious cheese plate which included several kinds of cheese, figs, apricots, dates, and some wonderful-looking bread. It was a balmy April evening so we sat outside appreciating the architecture of the museum without the usual billion people milling around (the Getty limits the number of visitors at any given time so I admit that is a slight exaggeration). The ambience was serene and peaceful in contrast to all the going-home traffic just outside on PCH which now seemed like another planet.
There was a good turnout for the lecture which surprised me given this was a school/work night. In fact I had never attended a Thursday night lecture at the Getty Villa before just because it was during the week, plus the fact that I personally do not care to drive on Pacific Coast Highway in the dark.
One benefit of an evening event is that the parking is free. Considering that parking at both the Gettys is now a hefty $15, that is definitely a consideration. (For a daytime event I now take the bus although it is a rather time-consuming, convoluted process.)
The speaker, Trinidad Nogales Basarrate, is chief curator and director of research at the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida. I was interested to discover that the architect who designed the museum is Rafael Moneo Vallés, the architect of one of my favorite Los Angeles buildings, the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels that I wrote about previously. From the images I saw it seems that he based the design of the museum on Roman architectural elements but with a modern interpretation. Now I have to add the Mérida museum to my list of places to see before I die (so that had better be a long way off.)
After the lecture we were treated to dessert and coffee on the patio outside the café courtesy of the Getty. I’m not sure what the pastry was that I chose but it was one of the most delicious pastries I have ever tasted. I am not normally a fan of dessert, and especially pastry, but this looked so tempting I couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I didn’t.
The galleries were open until 9:00 pm to allow us to wander around. My friend and I had not seen The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire so we trotted on up to the second floor. When I first heard about the exhibit I wondered how it would fit into the museum’s parameters of Greek and Roman art. The answer is that the exhibit has an innovative twist, exploring the parallels between the Aztec and the Roman empires.
As usual with the Getty Villa, the display was first rate. The layout was easy to move around, and the signage was both informative and graphically pleasing. That is important to me as the content might be fabulous but if the presentation is lacking it detracts from the experience itself.
As with many events I attend, getting myself out the door can sometimes be the hardest part. I admit I had second thoughts about going, but it turned out to be a marvelous evening and I’m happy that both my friend and I made the effort.
(Photo copyright roslyn m wilkins)