Hanging with Heroes at the Getty Villa

Catherine Brackey. Photo: Courtesy Catherine Brackey.

By Melanie Williams-Galuten

“Museums are Fun!”

Meet Catherine Brackey, Palisades resident, mother of two and a proud badge-carrying member of an elite group: The Getty Villa Docents.  Each member of this dedicated and passionate team brings unique backgrounds and skills to each exceptional tour they give at this stunning museum.

After an engaging interview with the enthusiastic Mrs. Brackey I began thinking this docent thing just might be the greatest job you’ll never get paid for! Where else in Los Angeles can you escape to Ancient Greece and Rome for a day, meet people from all over the world and take in magnificent views of the Pacific ocean all at the same time?

Catherine Brackey, docent at The Getty. Photo: Courtesy Getty Villa

Of her docent job, Brackey remarked, “Something about walking into that space…talk about a great office!”

She traded in a ‘show me the money’ agency career at ICM around 2004 for another great job you’ll never get paid for…being a Mom. Right after the birth of her first child she heard about the Getty docents on NPR. She knew immediately it would be the perfect place for her to flex her love for Art History. She now gets to hang with the likes of Hercules, Jupiter, a Muse or two and the wonderful fellow docents that she now counts as some of her closest friends. This former Hollywood agent has traded in the glitterati of show biz for the pantheon of the Getty.

Outer Peristyle at the Getty Villa. Photo: Melanie Williams-Galuten.

When I asked her why she became a docent this art lover spoke rhapsodically of it. She simply LOVES being in museums and spending time with people from around the world. “I am always so gratified that so many people come to the Villa…and after spending time with them they leave happy and satisfied having learned something…it’s so gratifying!”  She adds, “I think people can experience a museum in such a more meaningful way when they have guidance. It opens up the experience in such a different way. Also I LOVE working with the kids…you can open their eyes to SO much. I like to have them ask me questions. I love to teach them things.” 

Brackey is quick to point out, “You don’t have to have a background in Art History to be a docent. You just need to have a love of what you are doing…sharing your own special passions with the visitors.”  In fact, according to the Getty’s blog the pantheon of docents includes “engineers, film producers, social workers, photographers, teachers… just about every other profession you can name.”

Future Docent? Photo: Melanie Williams-Galuten.

Catherine Brackey is proud to be among this amazing group of unsung heroes at the Getty who give two to three tours per shift and/or work in the “Family Forum” a hands-on space where kids design replicas of different kinds of Greek Vases and act out their own heroic stories in a fantastic shadow-pose area.  Brackey smiles, “It is SO fun in the Family Forum…you can talk to the kids and help them draw connections between what they are doing and what is in the collection.”

Brackey is definitely living her bliss.

Curious kids at the Getty Villa. Photo: Melanie Williams-Galuten.

Escape to this treasure of a museum and you just might just find her there…sharing her creativity and passion and flexing her art history muscles. 

Entry is free. The guided tours…priceless.

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