|The museum is a re-creation (not a reproduction) of the Villa dei Papyri, a Roman villa buried at Herculaneum in 79 C. E., with some features derived from other buildings in Herculaneum and Pompeii. It is built on a podium (a space for visitor parking and other services--not visible here) with a 300 foot long main peristyle with columns made of reinforced concrete (as a caution against earthquakes). Columns on three of the sides of the peristyle use the Doric order while those of the taller entrance facade use the Corinthian order. The main peristyle has a reflecting pool surrounded by bronze statues. Trees, shrubs, and flowers are the types that would have been in the original villa. The interior has about forty galleries on two levels, often embellished with gold and colored marbles.
This controversial building has been criticized as being cold or in bad taste. It has been seen as Walt Disneyish and faulted for not being a faithful reproduction and for combining styles in an incongruous way. Interiors have been criticized for being too opulent and gaudy, often competing with the works of art. Norman Neuerburg, Getty's consultant for archaeology, has defended the museum's authenticity and claims that this scholarly adaptation differs dramatically from Hollywood movie sets. Other defenders see the museum as populist and post-modern.
The museum is currently closed for remodeling.
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