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I reviewed the Getty Villa on Yelp. Although I have given it 4 out of 5 stars it I have two critiques of its collection from a professional standpoint, namely:

I think the Villa itself could be put to better use than as a merely beautiful container for the objects. The villa, being a replica Roman villa, could be better used to explained Roman social customs. The first thing to point out is the owner of the original villa was the Roman equivalent of J. Paul Getty: a very rich man. The structure of the Roman familia could be discussed; the roles of the paterfamilias, his wife and children, and the household slaves. It could go into the daily routine of the Roman household, etc. It could also be used to explain how Greek models of cultured life penetrated Roman life, for example, in the form of the peristyle garden. It also could at least have one interior room with the actual interior decoration of a Roman villa; rather than the heavily Georgian-period block colour models that it follows.

Last, I am not sure of the layout of the collection. Museum studies isn’t my area of expertise, on reflection I am sure that the thematic grouping of the objects could be improved. For example, in amongst the portraits (divided into men and women) there are a jumble of portrait heads and funerary monuments, Greek and Roman, with no explanation of the difference between burial practices and their evolution over time, and the social role of the portrait busts and monumental statues. I also had minor issues with some inscription translations put onto the cards.

Does anyone think these are unfair criticisms?