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Wednesday Wonders: Good Times at the Getty

November 29th, 2017

Our high school students enjoyed an educational yet fun-filled field trip earlier this month – on November 4th they visited the Getty Villa Museum in Southern California to experience some of the ancient art and culture that we’re all learning about this year in history (and then stopped in Santa Barbara for more fun!). Abby Moore, a SLOCA High School sophomore, wrote up a blog post to share a student’s perspective on this great day of bonding and learning together:

Early Saturday morning SLOCA High School students congregated at the upper parking lot to begin our adventure down south to the Getty Villa, destined for ridiculousness, erudition, and laughter. Chatting excitedly about the goofing off to come, we boarded the star-spangled bus and departed from the school at the raw hour of 7:15 am. After making a short stop at the Walmart in Arroyo Grande to pick up the south county kids, 44 eager teenagers, a handful of less eager supervisors, and a bus driver set out for Malibu. Leaning over the backs of our seats, my friends and I discussed coffee cups and Starbucks drinks like authentic girls, while the freshmen boys in the rows behind played a game of Mafia in the waning darkness. Despite the circles circumscribing our eyes, we filled the bus with the humming of countless conversations and relentless laughter.

Halfway to our first stop somewhere around Camarillo, I broke out the thirty-ounce bag of gummy worms I stashed in my pack. My friends and I snacked on the candy and giggled at the blind contour drawing Riley was making of each of us. When we did stop for a break, I sprawled out on the grass in the McDonald’s parking lot and enjoyed the warm sun and outside air accompanied by Meg and Julianne.

Once all were accounted for we set off again a little perkier than before. As we were driving along the coast in Malibu, I spotted the fin of a dolphin gliding through the ocean water. After arriving at the Getty and unloading the bus, everyone shed the jackets they had worn in preparation for the rain that never came. We could not have asked for a better November day; the sun warmed us to the perfect temperature and only a tender breeze blew towards sea.

Right away we were separated into our assigned groups. My group quickly set off down the main entrance of the villa and into the museum itself. The miniature glass vases from the Roman empire struck me as the most beautiful works of art. The designs were so intricate and the colors so vivid, it was hard to imagine these vases had been fashioned thousands of years ago. Videos played showing how the vases were made using the ancient technique, which is similar to glass-blowing today.

{photo by Sabina Zink}

In other rooms we marveled at the skill necessary to carve the scenes displayed on Roman sarcophagi. One sarcophagus particularly amazed me with a depiction of children making wine; it was embroidered with vines and showed some children stomping the grapes into a liquid and others harvesting the grapes from the vines. I wondered how long it would take to complete a work of art such as this.

In each room Latin students could identify certain words if not full phrases appearing on tomb markers, which tickled our pride for knowledge. Because the lower floor was closed, we headed to the café for lunch after thoroughly viewing the upper floor. After our group had eaten, we meandered through the herb garden, which grew fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs that Roman people actually ate and cooked with in their time.

While waiting to watch a film about the Getty’s construction, Julianne and I threw pennies into the impluvium; the coins made a pleasant plop into the shallow water and dispersed the silt around them as they hit the marble bottom. Julianne claimed it was her first time ever throwing coins into a fountain.

Then we entered the show room to watch the film. Interestingly I discovered Getty had based his villa museum after the Villa dei Papiri, an ancient Roman mansion that is now an archeological dig site. Getty himself put as much dedication and meticulousness into the construction of an authentic villa as the artists put into their artwork which is displayed within. As we explore the Villa further, we could identify the architects’ use of different stones and buildings to produce a dig site atmosphere. Having been fully marbled out, my group decided to take a rest bathing in the sun in the magnificent amphitheater.

{photo by Tim Ronda}

Soon it was time to get on the road again; we regrouped and boarded our bus. On the way to Santa Barbara my friends sang songs and talked about what we had seen and done. Once we arrived at Stearn’s Wharf we went onto the beach. Out on the sand Katie, won over by the pleas of Lily, taught us pre-singing vocal exercises which were mostly interrupted by our bursting laughter. After thoroughly humiliating ourselves, we decided to look for dinner. My cousins who live in Santa Barbara were driving by and stopped to say hello to us on our way. We ate at a small Thai food restaurant, where we all ordered nearly the same meal that proved delicious.

After dinner we proceeded downtown and ran into an antique store. Trying on ridiculous sun glasses and pointing out goofy figurines and items, we laughed together and milled through each nook and cranny. We were very amused by the presence of Hawaiian shirts at most antique stores; we wondered if anyone actually collects the colorful shirts. By this time we had to start heading back to the pick-up spot. On the final stretch homewards we demolished the massive bag of sour gummy worms. Our conversations towards the end of the ride consisted of repeating many tongue twisters and strange accents, probably accountable to our waning sanity after the long day. Arriving back at SLOCA the circles around our eyes had returned as well as the yawning. However, as we each waited for our rides we chatted about the craziness we enjoyed.    

{photo by Sabina Zink}

Thank you, Abby, for taking us along on this adventue! It sure sounds like it was a blast. Here are a few more photos from the day, taken by different groups:

{photo by Ava Faber}

{photos by Sabina Zink}


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