The Hillwood Museum

Whenever I go to the various Smithsonian museums around town, I always think to myself, “Boy this would be so much better if it were a little more ostentatious!” I’m sure you’ve said the same thing to yourself. So, imagine my relief when I finally had a chance to visit the Hillwood Museum (4155 Linnean Avenue, NW) this weekend. It’s only a few blocks away from the Van Ness Metro way up in NW, but you’ll never know it unless you go looking for it (or happen to be hanging out at the Czech Embassy across the street). It used to be Marjorie Merriweather Post’s house. She was the heir to the Post Cereal fortune and spent a lot of time collecting European and pre-Soviet Russian art and doo-dads. Turns out the Communists didn’t have Ms. Post’s breeding and didn’t appreciate a lot of Imperial Russia’s treasures, so she was able to buy a bunch of it after the revolution and ship it back to the states. When she died in 1973, she had her extensive mansion and grounds turned into a museum so that the rest of us DC residents could enjoy her stuff (which includes two Faberge eggs, a diamond encrusted crown worn by Empress Alexandria of Russia, and lots and lots of porcelain dishes, paintings of various royalty, and furniture too nice to ever sit on). As a special bonus, for what can only be the sake of completeness, you can also view not only Ms. Post’s private bedroom, but also her private bathroom! Now that’s a behind the scenes look at how the other half lives!

Unlike the more plebeian Smithsonian, Hillwood isn’t free ($12 for adults), but c’mon, now that the American History Museum is closed for renovations, what else do you have to do?

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