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“An often overlooked gem” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hillwood Museum & Gardens

Hillwood Museum & Gardens
4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington DC, DC 20008
202-686-5807
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Ranked #8 of 234 Attractions in Washington DC
Type: Historic Sites, Art Museums, Gardens, Museums
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Hillwood, the grand estate of Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, sits on 25 acres overlooking Rock Creek Park in northwest Washington DC. Along with a world renowned collection of Russian and French decorative arts, Hillwood also features extensive gardens and special exhibitions.
usa
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“An often overlooked gem”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

We had a lovely visit to Hillwood Estate/Gardens - home of Majorie Merriweather Post. The home and extensive art collection can be viewed with an audio tour (about 90 minutes). The gardens were beautiful in the Spring and the audio tour lasts about 60 minutes. We have been coming to DC for many years and had never heard of this museum. It is definitely worth a visit!!! There is a reasonable cafe and areas for a picnic.

Visited May 2013
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543 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Wisconsin
Top Contributor
122 reviews 122 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
“Outstanding!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013 via mobile

I should start by saying I feel sorry for anyone who cannot see the beauty in the gardens and exhibits. The gardens are breath taking; I wish I'd had more time to just linger in them. Yes, the house is filled with Ms. Post's collection, which would clearly not be to everyone's liking (but no sour grape posts are necessary). She was wealthy beyond imagination and chose to leave, and display, her passion to the public. The Russian exhibit is very interesting. The cafe, which will get its own review, should not be overlooked for lunch or a wonderful dessert -- perhaps with a nice glass of wine. The gift store has souveniers priced for everyone. It is truly a hidden gem only 5 1/2 miles from Union Station (the cab ride was $20, not including the tip). I am so happy we chose to visit Hillwood! I don't believe anyone would be disappointed with the visit.

Visited May 2013
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Scranton, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Gorgeous place!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

This is the former home of the late actress Dina Merrill. The grounds surrounding this beautiful home are wonderfully sculpted gardens. There is a Japanese garden with a pond and Japanese decorative items. You can picnic on the grounds or just wander and explore.

The inside of the house is lovely too, but my favorite part of the place was Ms. Merrill's Russian Faberge egg collection. She collected many things but the Russian collection was fabulous. Hillwood also has a little cafe where you can get something to eat.

They also host special collections in another building on the grounds. When I was there they had a wedding dress collection. They also have a nice gift shop.

Great place to spend several hours.

Visited June 2012
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Washington, DC
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Hillwood: Monument to a Single – and Singular – Vision”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2013

I don’t want to belabor my point, amusing as it might be. Yet I do not like Hillwood in the least. It is chilly, pretentious, and museum-like. It is, in fact, a kind of mausoleum stuck in a house that was created to be a mausoleum.

For one thing, exterior and interior match about as well as a split-level suburban and a Grecian temple. For another, the stuff that’s inside is often spotty. Being more versed in painting than I am in decorative objects, I am perhaps too prejudiced to make an even-handed assessment. Even so, I found Hillwood’s finicky displays and expensive-but-undistinguished objets d’art disappointing.

They were the life’s work of a single woman, who found her métier in collecting All Things Russian, which she did with more rapacity than restraint. The rooms in which these objects are displayed are a garden-variety, European-inspired hodgepodge. Even the dining-room, which reeks of a Georgian manor house, has an ersatz quality. I browsed its panels and entablatures with a dual motivation: I wanted to sit down at the table and order a tossed salad, but I also wanted to scratch my name into it, as lovers do on the bark of a tree. It filled me with awe on the one hand and a certain giddiness on the other. I imagined heads of state sitting there and wanted to chase them around the table and into the potting-shed. After that, it gets fuzzy. The important thing is that these people got chased.

The woman’s name was Marjorie Merriweather Post, the wife of the guy who made Post Toasties, among other breakfast cereals that became household staples. (If you use the facilities, you’ll see a group of product posters that show the pride of a great cereal empire. I preferred them to most of the paintings.)

Because paintings are my specialty, I can’t refrain from mentioning the ones at Hillwood – or, rather, ignoring most of them by design.

Ms. Post seemed to like one subject above all others: herself. Once you get past the vestibule, which is crammed with mediocre stuff in the salon-style, you’ll see fewer paintings. Yet most of them are of Ms. Post. None are very good. They do, however, tell you a bit about her. Perhaps too much. What do I think? I think she should have specified in her will for these paintings to be distributed after the tastes and inclinations of a future curator. Or given away to other institutions. If you want to shine posthumously, you’ve got to commission the best people. For all of her money, Ms. Post was getting by with lesser lights and lousy brushwork.

I know very little about gardening or space design and shouldn’t weigh in on such things. On the other hand, I found Hillwood’s physical landscape far more captivating than the mansion itself.

If you must gawk at “rich people stuff”, go somewhere else. I would suggest that you select your subjects from real life. At least they’re works-in-progress. Hillwood is the sort of place from which life has conveniently escaped. Go there if you want to start gasping. I don’t mean in awe: I mean like a fish out of water.


Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens is at: 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW/Washington, DC 20008

Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; and on selected Sundays from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Hillwood is closed on Mondays, most national holidays, and from January 21st – through February 1st.

A donation of $15.00 is suggested, but you don’t have to pay anything. I didn’t.

Visited June 2012
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Staten Island, New York
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“Genuine Russian Antiques, Antique Jewelry, Faberge Eggs”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2013

A very beautiful mansion with fantastic gardens in the middle of Washington, DC. Historical estate full filled with Russian antiques and memorabilias. Great collection of porcelain from different epochs of Russian history. Amazing paintings of main historical pre-revolutionary leaders. Classic Russian art of any kind. Personal belongings of Tsars Romanov's family. Faberge Eggs and art deco jewelery of Russian aristocracy. During our visit there was an exhibition of extremely rare coronation books of Romanov dynasty at dacha. Gardens beautifully decorated with fountains and flowers. Also they have greenhouse with magic orchids. Tours only in English but stuff speaks Russian, too. Price for entrance is suggested. Onsite cafe is really cozy and a nice spot for a cup of tea.

Visited May 2013
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