Friday, January 18, 2013

Keep It Local: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

Mom is slightly obsessed with the new season of Downton Abbey and I'm becoming slightly princess obsessed, so mom thought a visit to Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens and the current Pret-a-Papier exhibit was in order. Marjorie Merriweather Post, big time philanthropic socialite and founder of General Foods, purchased Hillwood in 1955 and transformed the 1920's estate into a home to entertain and display her collections. In addition to the main mansion, 13 acres of manicured gardens span across the top of a hill overlooking Rock Creek.

The Pret-a-Papier exhibit showcases the amazing paint and paper costume sculptures of Isabelle de Borchgrave spread throughout the mansion and adirondack house at the museum. The mansion is incredibly opulent (a LOT of bling - check out that crunk cup up there) and I had to be on my absolute best behavior -- it's kid-friendly, but well behaved kid-friendly (a sign on the mansion door asks parents to hold childrens' hands while in the home). We did our best, but we'd probably be most likened to Downton Abbey's Martha Levinson (the American  grandmother) and Lady Sybil Crawley.

The docents were all pleasant and gave us some ideas for playing I-spy as we walked throughout the mansion. Marjorie Post loved dogs and they pop up in all kinds of places throughout the home (paintings, china, sculpture, etc.). Horsies, crowns and eagles (part of the family crest) are all prevalent as well. My absolute most favorite room? Marjorie Post's bathroom - ENTIRELY PINK. We're talking pink walls, pink tub, pink lights, pink toilet and PINK TOILET PAPER. Seriously. I could've moved right in there.

After we toured all the dresses, we decided to check out the grounds. It was a bit chilly, but we made it through the Japanese-Style Garden and the French Parterre. They were overdesigned, but beautiful. Hard to believe it's in the middle of D.C. A warm weather return visit is definitely in order, but we're guessing we'll leave Kane at home again -- manicured gardens don't really suit him (he's even feistier than Tom Branson).

The Pret-a-Papier exhibit is at Hillwood for a few more days -- until January 20th. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on select Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Check Hillwood's website for information about Family Fun Dayspreschool programs and other events.

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