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“Minimalist Elegant Simplicity”

The Philip Johnson Glass House
Ranked #1 of 10 things to do in New Canaan
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed July 23, 2013

The Philip Johnson Glass House Tour is understated experience. The Glass House is truly intricate but simple, naked but functional, conceptual but contemporary. Truly an eye candy for the lovers of Architecture and Structural Engineering.

2  Thank Carlos P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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114 - 118 of 155 reviews

Reviewed July 12, 2013 via mobile

We enjoyed a wonderful tour with a charming docent, Laura. The Glass House is awe inspiring as are the other structures on the site. You need not be a architect, or a lover of modern art to be moved by Philip Johnson's timeless retreat.

Thank happyinnycchristmas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 25, 2013

Built in 1949, the Glass House is still elegant and inspiring. The tour guide was very knowledgeable. I wouldn't have been surprised to hear she had a graduate degree is art history. I learned so much during the tour which lasted several hours.There are a number of buildings on the 49 acre property, and all are interesting.

1  Thank innkeeper12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2013

My son and I booked the Extended Tour ($100 per person) online, as it seemed pointless to travel 2 hours each way from Long Island just to take a 40 minute tour. I also wanted to see as many of the buildings as possible, and the extended tour covered almost everything.

The Visitor Center was conveniently located across from the commuter rail station. A shuttle bus brought us from the Visitor Center to the estate itself. We toured in a small group of about a dozen people. The tour involved a significant amount of walking but a golf cart was available for the mobility challenged.

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and spoke about each building as well as the furnishings within, and their influences and derivations, with precision and expertise. This level of detail was perhaps a little much for my 12 year-old son, but I appreciated her depth of knowledge. To her credit, our guide engaged my son by allowing him to find the hidden light switches, and sit in some of the outdoor chairs, and accommodated his desire to have a look at the pool.

My only regret is that we were obliged to remain together as a group, but that's understandable given the size of the property and the one-of-a-kind structures. Likewise, I would have preferred to have been able to wander through the sculpture gallery, much as one would experience a museum gallery, but this is a minor complaint.

While I wouldn't recommend the extended tour for all but the most precious child, teens can appreciate the beauty of the landscape, while learning something about Modernism. Philip Johnson remains a giant of modern architecture as this collection of structures makes abundantly clear.

2  Thank Arun K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 16, 2013

The Glass House is an absolutely wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in design, art, architecture, landscape architecture, or even just 20th century history. Philip Johnson built the Glass House when he was still single in 1949, but the rest of the estate evolved over the decades of his partnership with curator David Whitney, and walking through it is like walking through a three-dimensional map of their relationship and their reactions to art and culture over time. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed visiting the estate's 2-D art and sculpture galleries as much as I enjoyed visiting the Glass House, and I hope I can return and take the longer tour of the grounds next year! Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and took the time to tailor her presentation to the interests of our group.

A few things that were a bit disappointing to me: the Glass House has been forced to rent itself out to groups for events, which can really detract from visitors' experience of the property. While we visited, a crew was taking apart a large tent that had been raised next to the Glass House for a Penn State event that took place the night before, and their trucks and activities obstructed certain views and really marred the surrounding landscape. It can be hard to get tickets for a tour but you might want to call to ask if anything will be going on the night before your planned trip before you commit to a certain time and date. Also, while I applaud attempts to use Johnson's planned visitor's center on the site as a place to display art, I didn't really appreciate having Da Monsta (as Johnson named the building) covered with red ropes tied into like spiderwebs. While it was a witty treatment, many of us are still seeing these buildings for the first time, and I think there could be a way to add to visitors' experience by introducing art that complements Johnson's designs, without making it impossible for viewers to view the buildings as art in themselves. I also think it would not be a bad idea to use the large room in Da Monsta as a small theater, as Johnson originally intended, to show short films about his and Whitney's lives and careers.

Despite these concerns, you should definitely go to the Glass House--it has only been open a few years, and I am sure the experience will only improve over time like a bottle of fine wine!

Thank develbow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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