Monday, July 25, 2016

Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens

Image found here.

I recently discovered Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens for the first time. A Meet-Up group was going to visit, and since I had just recently heard about the place, I thought I'd check it out.

The place is beautiful, and it's amazing to think that it's right in Cleveland Park in Washington, D.C.! It's completely tucked away, and everything about the place is incredible. We started our self-guided tour in the museum, which was the mansion of Marjorie Merriweather Post (as in Post cereal). She was quite the collector, especially of art. The building itself is gorgeous both inside and out, and there is so much to look at! Such opulence!

The magnificent staircase when you first walk in is overwhelming!
She collected A LOT of fancy dishware.
Dining Room
There are figurine collections throughout the mansion.

One of Post's husbands worked in Russia, so she has a lot of Russian art in her collection, including Fabergé eggs.

We also learned about the history of this estate and the people who worked there. There were so many staff members: cooks, servants, the butler, maids (even the maids had their own maids!), etc.! Ms. Post loved to entertain and was always having people over for luncheons, parties, and so on.

The kitchen areas are huge!
Ms. Post had two other estates: Camp Topridge in New York and Mar-A-Lago in Florida.
"Marjorie Post wore a look of amused delight when watching the fun her guests were having. She derived real fulfillment from using her money that way." -Columnist Betty Beal

She really loved having portraits of herself. There are several throughout the museum!

She even has her own bust!

Once we made our way out of the house (which takes some time on its own), we made our way to the greenhouse. Ms. Post liked to have fresh orchids in the house when she was visiting, and they were grown right in the greenhouse next door.

Image found here.
 Right now there is a special exhibition going on called Deco Japan, which features Japanese art from 1920-1945. We spent some time checking this special collection out, and I especially liked the focus on animals and the "modern" Japanese woman.

This is one of two buildings that featured the Deco Japan exhibit.

I believe rabbits are a sign of good luck in the Japanese culture.

I loved this picture of a young, modern woman skiing alone.
Again, more rabbits. Also, because Mandarin ducks mate for life, gifts featuring the birds were often given as wedding gifts.
Because turtles and tortoises live for a long time, they represent wishes of long life when given as gifts.
A bull, a rabbit, and a pair of Kirin (or Qilin)
A peacock and same cranes
I likes how these modern women were dressed in Western fashion, including their backless dresses.
This piece is called "Tipsy," which alludes to the drinking that went on during the time just before and during World War II.
Some of these "modern" jackets featured themes of smoking...
And of city-scapes...
And more cigarette boxes.
There is also a Japanese garden on the estate (which is always there; it's not part of the special Japanese art featured right now). It's quite pretty, with its little statues and waterfalls.

Ms. Post was an animal lover, and she has a pet cemetery on the estate grounds. I thought it was very sweet how much the family loved their pets!

The pets even have their own marked graves. It reminded me of the graves at Mount Herzl in Israel that I saw last summer.
My favorite part of the entire place is the cutting garden. Ms. Post loved fresh flowers, and there are so many different kinds in this garden. The flowers were all in bloom when I visited, and I couldn't help but take a million pictures! I was especially inspired when I saw some goldfinches eating some of the flowers (seeds? bugs inside?); I must have spent ten minutes just taking pictures of those birds!

And here are some pictures of the gold finches (and a tiger swallowtail butterfly!):

Notice the yellow birds at the tops of the plants.
This bird kept pulling off the petals of this flower!
This butterfly kept moving around, so it was hard to get a good shot of him.
This place is SO neat! I was there for a few hours and still felt rushed. I would love to go back!