The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens is a decorative arts museum in the heart of Washington, D.C. Set on a 25-acre estate that was once the former residence of Marjorie Merriweather Post, businesswoman, collector, and socialite. The Hillwood Museum has an extraordinary collection of decorative arts with a focus on the House of Romanov. Highlights of the collection include a comprehensive gathering 18th and 19th-century French decorative art, the most extensive collection of Russian Imperial art outside of Russia, and one of the country’s finest orchid collection.
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The Hillwood Museum features over 17,000 objects from Marjorie Merriweather Post’s original collection, as well as objects gathered after her death. Collection highlights include a magnificent full-length portrait of Catherine the Great in her Russian elite finery, The Duchess of Parma and Her Daughter by Jean-March Nattier, and The Countess Samoilova and Her Foster Daughter (1834) by Karl Bruillov. Other notable artworks include Konstantin Makovsky’s A Boyar Wedding Feast (1883) and Mrs. Post Portrait (1952) by Douglas Chandor.
Significant pieces of decorative art include two Imperial Easter Eggs from the House of Fabergé, two beautiful Jean-Henri Riesener-designed chests of drawers, the official cabinet maker of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Bleu Celeste Wares, and a Russian Orthodox liturgical vestment dating back to 1896. The Museum also houses a variety of tapestries dating back to the 1730s and Russian Orthodox Church objects such as vintage lace tablecloths, liturgical vessels, bloodstone objects, Wedgwood ceramics, and jewelry by Cartier and Harry Winston.
The Hillwood Museum has an extensive Art Research Library, which features an impressive selection of European and Russian documents and decorative art books and is available by appointment only.
The Hillwood Museum is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens that were designed by landscape architect Willard Gebhart in 1926. Gebhart created a variety of unique landscaping details, which Post incorporated into the interior design of the Museum, such as the ‘garden rooms’ and breakfast nook, which features an indoor garden of orchids.
Highlights of the estate’s gardens include the elliptically-shaped motor court, the French Parterre, the Rose, Lunar and Japanese-style Gardens, the Friendship Walk, the Four Seasons Overlook, and a Putting Green, among others.
Designed by Innocenti and Webel, the elliptically-shaped motor court Motor Court features a statue of a young Eros holding a goat, representing fertility and love and is surrounded by boxwoods, English ivy, azaleas, and camellias. The French Parterre is a formal garden that serves as a Post's tribute to the 18th-century French aristocracy. The garden is crisscrossed with walking pathways, channeled waterways, a central pool lined with Italian glass tile, and walls of English ivy and boasts a beautiful terracotta sculpture of Diana overlooking the garden and the mansion.
The Rose Garden was designed in 1956 by Perry Hunt Wheeler, designer of the White House Garden and features a wood and brick pergola with climbing roses, white wisteria, and boxwoods, as well as unique varieties of floribunda roses, tulips, and sweet alyssum. The rose garden also serves as the final resting place for Post, whose ashes rest in a pink granite monument that features her coat of arms and is decorated with dark purple porphyry.
The Friendship Walk is a simply designed, English-inspired garden walk that features azaleas, rhododendrons, and boxwoods, while the Four Seasons Overlook is made up of four statues standing in a circular formation surrounded by dogwood, cherry, magnolia, and crape myrtle trees. Donated by friends in 1957, each statue is engraved with the names of people who have contributed to the garden.
Named for its crescent-shaped design, the Lunar Lawn is an evergreen lawn which boasts beautiful views of the Washington Monument, which is framed by American elms and surrounded by a seasonal rotation of flowers, such as azaleas, camellias, false cypress, tulips, and pansies.
Designed by renowned landscape architect, Shogo Myaida, the Japanese-Style Garden features a tall granite lantern and stone guard dogs and both native and Japanese plants, such as azaleas, false cypress, maples, Japanese pines, and Colorado blue spruce.
Other features of the Hillwood Estate and Gardens include a pet cemetery with limestone memorials, a 1969 pre-Cold War Russian dacha that houses changing exhibitions, a cutting garden, and greenhouse, and an Adirondack Building that serves as a museum programming venue.
The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens is located at 4155 Linnean Ave NW in Washington, D.C. and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Hillwood Café is a contemporary café that serves European-inspired for lunch and Sunday afternoon tea. The Café also provides free picnic blankets for alfresco dining on the beautiful garden grounds.
4155 Linnean Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, Phone: 202-686-5807