Hillwood Musuem – A Mini-Hermitage in America’s Capital

Reading travel blogs has made me realize that I’m less of a planner than most.  However, I’m not above taking advantage of other people’s planning.  So when a friend and I were preparing to go to Washington D.C., I was delighted when she started emailing me about a place called Hillwood.  Who would have imagined that my favorite D.C. museum would be one I’d never heard of before.  But this historic mansion filled with Russian art made me feel like I was visiting the Hermitage without leaving home.

The Museum that Grape Nuts Built…

Hillwood is the former home, and showpiece of Marjorie Merriweather Post.  Post was the heiress to the Post Cereal (later General Foods Corporation) empire.  Her parents died in the 1910s when she was 27 years old, and Post transformed into a successful business woman in her own right.  She became the wealthiest woman in America, with an approximate fortune of $250 million.  Being rich meant being a socialite, and as a member of New York high society, Post started collecting art.

Hillwood Museum. Photo by ctj71081.

Home & Garden

Hillwood Museum occupies a 1920s Georgian-style mansion that Post purchased in 1955.  From the start, she knew she wanted the home to eventually serve as a museum and she had installations made to display her many collections.  Hillwood is both an incredible art museum and a fantastically decorated historic home.  And the glamour doesn’t stop at the mansion walls. Visitors also get to enjoy thirteen acres of manicured gardens.  From French Parterre to a formal rose garden, to a Japanese garden.  Hillwood has it all.

Strolling through the gardens at Hillwood. Photo by Rudi Riet.

The Hillwood Collection

The French Collection

Eighteenth-century French décor was all the rage among the socialites of Post’s day.  She followed suit and assembled a fantastic collection of “decorative arts”.  The house is littered with luxurious tapestries, unique furnishings and Sèvres porcelain.

The Russian Collection
Post began collecting Russian art while her third husband served as ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Today Hillwood houses the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia.  Highlights include porcelain vases and table wares, religious icons, and – my favorites, jeweled Fabergé eggs.

Apparel and Accessories
Finally, fashionistas will enjoy the Hillwood costume collection which includes hundreds of garments and accessories, giving an idea of how high end apparel evolved through the years.

Fabergé egg at the Hillwood Museum. Photo by ctj71081.

Visiting Hillwood

Hillwood Museum is open Tuesdays through Satudays from 10:00 – 5:00.

Location: 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Check the website for special festival and events.  Happenings include a Russian Festival, a French Festival, an egg festival and orchid month.

Suggested donation: $15.00

Amid the plethora of DC museums, none is more enjoyable than Hillwood.

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Avatar of Jennifer Choban

Jennifer Choban

Editor & Author at Gear Up & Play
Seasoned traveler, avid reader, over-eater, clumsy but determined hiker, nascent piano player and wannabe Spanish-speaker.

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