Diane at Hillwood Museum

One of my bestest writing friends, Melissa James, who hails from Australia but is now living in Switzerland, came to visit me and attend the Washington (DC) Romance Writers Spring Reteat. Melissa writes for Harlequin Romance and can pack emotion in her writing better than anyone I know. We’ve been great online friends and, once in a while, I’m lucky enough to see Melissa in person.

She arrived a couple of days before the Retreat, so we took advantage of beautiful weather and went to tour the Hillwood Museum. The museum is actually the house that Majorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune, built in DC as a place she could display her huge collection of art.

I’ve visited Hillwood several times and it always reminds me of an English country house, especially one built in the 1700s. In truth, it was built in modern times and inside there is art from all time periods, but, to me, it feels like a country house.

Here is the dining room:

And the drawing room.

Post’s bedroom is a replica of a Robert Adam room, but they didn’t have a postcard showing it (my inside photos are photos of postcards I purchased, because they didn’t allow photography inside the house).

Marjorie Merriweather Post had marvelous collections of porcelain, among so many things, like pre-communist Russian religious vestments and icons.

And 18th century art, like this painting, L’Enfant Cheri by Marguerite Gerard.

Outside the house are beautifully kept gardens, in glorious bloom on this lovely spring day.

I never tire of visiting this place.

What about you? Do you have a favorite historic house or museum you could visit over and over again?

Wednesday on Diane’s Blog, I’ll tell you about Melissa’s and my experiences at the WRW Retreat. My prize for that day will be a signed copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, which, of course, has Amanda’s and Deb Marlowe’s RITA finalist novellas…and my novella, too.
Blogging at DianeGaston.com

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Jane Austen
12 years ago

I love the Frick Library in NYC. I could go there every day and never tire of it. Every painting in it is amazing and I learned to love Whistler there. Grace Dalrymple Eliott’s portrait is also there, which I believe we discussed on this blog. I try to go every time I visit NYC.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
12 years ago

I too adore the Frick in NYC but also the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I always pay a visit when I’m there as well as Hampton Court Palace. My next trip to DC I have to to visit Hillwood Museum.

Megan Frampton
12 years ago

Those pix are lovely, and so nice you are able to see your friend every so often!

When I was growing up, I went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as often as possible. She was painted by John Singer Sargent, and he is now my favorite painter–probably because of her portrait.

Kim in Hawaii
12 years ago

Thanks, Diane, for your post about the Hillwood Museum. I didn’t take advantage of it when I lived in DC … but I’ll make sure to visit it when we move back to the East Coast in two years!

I never tire of NYC’s The Met, Paris’ The Louvre, and London’s British Museum simply because these museums are overflowing with treasures.

I look forward to reading about the WRW Retreat on your website!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Oh, Jane Austen, I am dying to go to the Frick. It was on my list of things to do last time in NYC, but we never got around to it.

I need to see the V and A again, Elizabeth. Amanda and I were so tired the day we went there that I didn’t appreciate its value.

Megan, there’s a beautiful Sargent portrait at the National Gallery of Art here in DC, another museum I can visit over and over.

Kim, I haven’t been to the Lourve, but Melissa is going there in the next few weeks (if she can get back to Switzerland by then!). I adore the British Museum and the Met!

Jane George
12 years ago

Great pics.
Thanks, Diane!

12 years ago

How incredibly gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the pics, and how wonderful to have such a friendship and more to be able to meet face to face from time to time. 🙂

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

confession time–I’ve never been to Hillwood, and I think it’s because it’s here. If I was visiting a city with a similar museum, I’d make a point of visiting!

I like to return to museums that are having restoration work done and where things change with every visit, or are building their acquisitions or have frequent displays featuring a particular aspect of the building.

Amanda McCabe
12 years ago

This house looks fabulous! I have to visit next time I come to DC. 🙂 (a few years ago they were doing some kind of work there and some of her objects came here in a traveling exhibit. It was only a small selection, but each piece was wonderful).

I love all the museums mentioned here, especially the Frick and the Met (and the Louvre, though it’s so huge it’s baffling!)

Jane Austen
12 years ago

I like the Warhol Museum as well, but mostly for The Factory, the downstairs area where you can make your own Warhol art (for free) and the Silver Pillows room, where you can play with Warhol’s art silver pillows. They are giant helium stuffed balloons and you can have a pillow fight with them (within reason the guards are sort of cranky if you have too much fun) and The Velvet Underground plays in the background. Pretty cool.

Speaking of museums, I’m working on a piece about how museums make me feel. If you don’t mind I’m going to post it. I’d love thoughts: mrdarcyatpemberley@gmail.com

I am a museumist: I believe in museums. I believe in their strength, beauty and peace, bringing cultures of the world together to share rooms and wings and space and air harmoniously. I believe in their passion, whether it lies in a lingering look, a forbidden touch, a breathless sigh, a locked gate, a stroke of genius, or a polished stone. I believe in their power, their ability to enlighten, to enliven, to strike awe, to educate, to change, to pacify. I believe in their inspiration, their long corridors and hallowed galleries where friendship, laughter, light, joy, dreams and minds are developed. I believe in their elegance, their opulence, their austerity. I believe they create greatness. I believe: Disce. Revere. Noli me timere. I believe in museums.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

The British Museum fascinated me as a child and I am sure that will be my reaction once I return as an adult.

I visited Mozart’s birthplace almost weekly when I studied in Salzburg.

I loved the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and The Rijksmuseum as well. Spent a pleasant afternoon just staring at Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch.

I think for me the draw is to see in person those things I had only seen in books before.

Enid Wilson
12 years ago

Wow, it looks like a palace, not just a country house.

Really Angelic

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Louisa, I love that you visited Mozart’s birthplace so often!

Enid, surprisingly I could see myself living in this house. It did seem like it had been a home as well as a museum.

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

Just came here from visiting your blog on your site. Every year, I like reading your pieces on the WRW Retreat. It seems like such a fun thing to do.

And having that special friend with you must’ve made this year’s extra wonderful.

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