June Outing at Hillwood

Members of The Explorers Club Washington Group and their guests enjoyed a summer outing at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens on Saturday, June 25.

It included tours of the estate founded by Marjorie Merriweather Post,  an American collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire. Hillwood is one of the premier art collector’s museums in the United States.

Hillwood Estate photo

Hillwood features the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia and a world-renowned collection of eighteenth-century French decorative art and furnishings.

The collection includes Fabergé eggs, Russian porcelain, Russian Orthodox icons, Beauvais tapestries, and Sèvres porcelain. Encircled by woodlands, the twenty-five acre estate provides visitors a tranquil oasis of luscious formal gardens.

After viewing a movie about Post and the estate, one of the gardeners led a tour of the gardens that flow from the house, with walks laid out in straight axes to separate the spaces, providing respite and recreation in a tranquil setting.  Assisted by prominent landscape architects and garden designers of the time, Mrs. Post conceived of outdoor “rooms” bounded by hedges or large plantings and containing statuary, fountains, and pools as focal points.

After the garden tour, a docent guided the group through the Georgian -style mansion that features furnished rooms decorated with Post’s magnificent French and Russian collections, which number more than 16,000 objects.

After lunch, several of the explorers and their guests visited the “Belles: Bridal Fashions from the Marjorie Merriweather Post Family, 1874-1958” exhibit.

It brings together her four wedding gowns, along with those of her mother and daughters, and examines the evolution of early 20th century wedding style through the lens of one of America’s most notable and fashionable families. Drawn mainly from the extensive costume collection left by Post to Hillwood, the exhibition also includes her daughters’ flower girl and bridesmaid dresses, and mother of the bride dresses worn by Post and her mother.  Archival photography, correspondence, and ephemera further illustrate the tradition, romance, and elegance that informed the renowned family’s nuptials

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