Getty Villa…with Kids!

Getty Villa…with Kids!

The Getty VillaOur family loves to go to The Getty Center. With the outdoor gardens and kid activities scattered throughout, we always have fun. I had been a little hesitant to go to The Getty Villa in Malibu because I was not sure if there was enough to keep little ones engaged if they were not enjoying the exhibits. I had visions of my daughter getting away and breaking a priceless artifact. But last week, we had the opportunity to go and so I decided to take a chance.

I went with my parents who were entertaining a guest from out of town, and my eight year old daughter. Upon arriving a docent pointed out the Family Forum which was filled with hands on exhibits and activities. After watching the film about the Getty Villa, I decided to break off from my parents and check out the Family Forum first. My daughter was captivated, and she spent a half hour drawing on life size Greek vessel models which had a special surface that you could draw on with dry erase markers, then erase and start over. After drawing she headed over to an area where the child can use props and become part of a scene on a vessel, my daughter chose a shield and sword and became part of several scenes that went by on the screen. You can use your camera and capture the image. Then she started coloring her own designs. We could have spent even more time, but I was afraid we might leave before seeing any actual artifacts.

The Getty VillaWe headed into a few galleries and saw ancient amphora, kylix and other vessels used for water and wine in Roman times. Having just spent time learning about this in the Family Forum, she was more interested in seeing the items in the galleries. After a few galleries, she was getting a little bored, so we headed out the main the Outer Peristyle Garden. We were a little disappointed the fountains had no water due to the drought, but that did not stop us from enjoying a few minutes sitting and looking at all the plants and tile work and architecture. She wanted to walk around, so as an adventure, I let her walk all the way around the fountain twice by herself. She loved it. The entire Villa is meant to look like a Roman country house and so we talked about that a little. We enjoyed visiting the temporary exhibit Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections (on display until August 25th) and when she was a little bored, we discovered a little nook where there were books to read including a picture book, Persephone by Sally Pomme Clayton and Virginia Lee which completely captivated my daughter (book is available in the Getty Villa gift shop.) After the reading break we were off to discover more galleries.

At the end of our visit, we met back up with my parents, who had enjoyed themselves in both the galleries and gardens as well, we all took a little look through the gift shop and headed out. I will definitely return again. If you decide to go to either The Getty Center or The Getty Villa, you can plan your visit at For the Getty Villa you do need tickets, although they are free and can be obtained by visiting the website. Parking is $15 and there is a restaurant if you find yourself there at lunchtime. We are so lucky in Los Angeles to have two such wonderful collections to enjoy and The Getty really makes both locations family friendly.

Authored by: Cindy Donnelly

Cindy has worked for What's Up for Kids for over 19 years and is thrilled to take over as owner/publisher. She loves helping South Bay parents connect with resources and working with camps, schools and other businesses to get the word out about their quality programs and services for families. For marketing information you can contact her at

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