Hillwood Museum has opened one of the loveliest estates in entire city to public tours. As you explore, you'll find stunningly beautiful gardens and one of the most amazing collections of art from the Russian Imperial era, all set within a grand estate fit for an heiress. Hillwood Museum and Gardens opened in 1977 as a public institution, left to the people by social doyenne and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post.
The story of Ms. Post is as interesting as they come. Visitors to Hillwood Museum in DC experience her legacy and learn her history as they take tours of Post's grand estate. In an era when women were expected to stay out of the family business, she was running the well-known cereal company before she was 30. While in New York City, she spent time with the great industrialists with names such as Whitney, Frick, and Vanderbilt, learning even more about business. Long before Hillwood Museum opened, Post's vision led to the creation of General Foods, a company that still continues to feed America.
While Post's business career was important, her passion for art turned into a lifelong pursuit. She purchased the home in the nation's capital in 1955. Even then, she was dreaming up plans for the Hillwood Museum and Gardens. Like the Phillips Collection, this museum has turned a private residence into a museum.
As you walk stroll through this grand home, you'll be in the presence of some great works of art Post collected during her world travels and interesting history. When one husband served as an ambassador to Russia in the 1930s, the country's government was selling off treasures so it could pay industrialization. For the next four decades, Post continued to amass Russian art, as well as objets d'art from France, which form the basis of the Hillwood Museum in DC. Treasures in the collection include a diamond crown worn by Empress Alexandra when she married Nicholas II, Fabergé eggs, and clothing worn by Post and her family.
Even before you see the first piece of art, you'll be struck by the show nature is putting on. The Hillwood Museum is surrounded by 25 lovely acres filled with natural forests and landscaped gardens. In the spring and fall, you can sign up for one of the guided garden tours to learn more about the natural side of Hillwood Museum and Gardens. All throughout the year, with the exception of January, you can plan on adding a house tour to your Washington vacation package. All of the tours are free whether you choose a docent-led tour, an audio guide, or to just wander through on your own. Before you begin in the house, you can stop into the visitor center to watch an introductory movie.
Visitors to Hillwood Museum also can enjoy a meal at the onsite cafe. Simply called the Hillwood Cafe, the small restaurant is open at lunchtime from Tuesday through Sunday. After the lunch hour has closed, the cafe serves afternoon tea in a charming and elegant setting. Along with enjoying distinctive dining experiences, Hillwood visitors also can visit the museum shop.
Besides the daily operations, Hillwood Museum in DC has become a dynamic cultural presence in a city known for its art museums. The schedule of events includes concerts, lectures, and films, all continuing in tradition of fine hospitality and connecting with culture that was so important to Ms. Post.