Interested in the classics? Want an inside glimpse of one of the most beautiful museums in California, one in the heart of Malibu? If you’re in USC’s Thematic Option program — or even if you just want to reserve a ticket online — you have the chance to personally tour one such classics museum this Tuesday, Nov. 13, by attending the biannual College Night event at the Getty Villa, free of charge.
According to Shelby Brown, education specialist for academic and adult audiences at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the woman responsible for organizing the event, College Night is hosted by the Getty’s Education Department and provides a way for students to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the museum.
“The Getty Villa, which replicates an ancient seaside mansion, is a small museum centered on classical antiquity, and we enjoy introducing students to our special site,” she said. “During College Night at the Villa, representatives from all different areas of the museum will offer tours of the collection and labs to explain what they do.”
Brown said they have also invited members of Legio VI Victrix, historical re-enactors, to come dressed as Romans. This year, there will be several Roman Runway shows and many photo opportunities with “Romans.” Additionally, the theme of this College Night is centered around the current exhibition, “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection.”
According to the exhibit website, the unique exhibition draws its name from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii, a melodrama of Pompeiian life set immediately before the eruption of Vesuvius.
The novel was chosen as the theme because, as one of the most popular literary works of the 19th century, it transformed modern perceptions of Pompeii and inspired numerous artists — from Ingres to Duchamp to Dali to Warhol — and works of art, several of which are on view in the exhibition. Contemporary issues, such as sexual identity, are also addressed through this theme.
The exhibit has been running since Sept. 12 and will stay open until Jan. 7, meaning that USC students are fortunate to be able to see it before time runs out.
College Night is not a new event; Brown also says the Getty Center has a College Night every spring, and the next one is scheduled for April 15.
“In 2009, shortly after the Villa opened, we started to host College Night to encourage students to visit the museum for fun,” she said. “[Many students come to the Villa] because of a class assignment or because their teachers brought the whole class. We wanted to offer a completely voluntary, open kind of experience in the museum that is separate from school obligations.”
Many factors will contribute to this unique experience: According to the College Night web page, students can expect special tours and presentations, free food and drinks, music by DJ AUDIOMOE, GettyGuide multimedia players to explore galleries on their own, Caricature artists, door prizes, 20 percent discounts at the Getty Store and more.
“[To further enhance the event], we encourage students to come dressed in togas, the citizen dress,” Brown said. “Armor and gladiatorial equipment and women’s fabrics will be available for students posing in front of our large Erupting Volcano model.”
USC students are very excited to get this special opportunity. Classics enthusiasts and newbies alike are thrilled to get the chance to be a part of something so unique. For many, the night will be their first foray into Los Angeles’ reputed museum culture.
“I really enjoy opportunities to explore different kinds of art and expand my knowledge of art here in L.A.,” said Kayla Foster, a freshman majoring in international relations and East Asian languages and cultures. “With the Thematic Option trip, I can do that in a special way as I share opinions and learn from other college students and my incredibly insightful Thematic Option professors.”
Brandon Cheung, an undeclared freshman, added, “I’m personally excited to be going to the Getty Villa with my Thematic Option classmates, as the study of Greco-Roman culture and art fits in so perfectly with both the ideas of my CORE 102 course, and the personal expertise of my professor. It’s one thing to talk about classical history, but I’d say it’s quite another thing to experience it firsthand, in the context of the heavy intellectual environment myself and my fellow T.O. classmates thrive in.”
College Night at the Getty Villa is tonight from 6:00 – 9:30 p.m, but students should arrive by 7:30 p.m. Thematic options students interested Getty Villa program should sign up at the Thematic Option office as soon as possible, as space and tickets are limited. Students not in Thematic Option should reserve free tickets online at the Getty Villa website and be prepared to their student I.D. at the museum entrance.