Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Collection is exhibiting A Nobility of Matter: Asian Art from the Bliss Collection thru June 2020.Beginning in 1912, Mildred Barnes Bliss and her family, guided by art advisor Royall Tyler, built an extensive collection of ancient Chinese art. Most of that collection was later sold to fund the Byzantine collection endowment, but certain pieces remain in the House Collection at Dumbarton Oaks. The exhibition encompasses two successive installations of those pieces. The first focuses on Song dynasty vessels while the second explores a broader range of luxury domestic objects.
The Folger Shakespeare Library building, which dates back to 1932, is now closed. The building will undergo a major renovation beginning on March 1 to expand public space, improve accessibility, and enhance the experience for all who visit the Folger. Construction will conclude in 2022, and the building will reopen. During the multi-year renovation, public access to the building will be restricted, but Folger programs and events will continue at other locations in DC, and around the country. Image below: A rendering of the building after renovation.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens will exhibit Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems, February 15-June 7. Marjorie Merriweather Post was a renowned collector of jewelry and gems and today her collection is one of the most important of those assembled in the twentieth century. Natural Beauties will present a selection of nearly 100 objects from Hillwood’s collection alongside loans that further explore the beauty and history of the precious stones.
Mrs. Post selected not only extraordinary pieces of jewelry, but also exquisite objets d’art. Today they form a distinctive assortment of art deco objects, held largely in storage, and explored as a collection exclusively for Natural Beauties.
March is Orchid Month at Hillwood, and it's an ideal time to tour Hillwood’s greenhouses. Marjorie Post constructed greenhouses to hold her extensive collection of exotic orchids, as well as cut flowers grown for floral arrangements throughout the mansion.
Visitors can learn about Post’s infatuation with orchids, and the exotic blooms and fragrances on display. Tickets are distributed at the visitor center upon opening each day. A twenty-minute tour is limited to ten visitors and meets in the visitor center conservatory. Drew Asbury, who is Hillwood’s horticulturist and volunteer manager, is responsible for the greenhouses, the cutting garden, and the horticulture volunteer program.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is exhibiting Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces, thru April 5, 2020.Dutch artist Bouke de Vries’s work is a contemporary interpretation of an eighteenth-century banquet table. His remarkable ceramic centerpiece, named War and Pieces, was created from thousands of white porcelain fragments, in the form of an epic battle.The work was inspired by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century centerpieces crafted in sugar and porcelain.
The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati is exhibiting America's First Veteransthru April 5, 2020. "More than a quarter of a million Americans served in the armed forces that won our independence. Those who survived the war became America’s first veterans—the world’s first veterans of an army of free men. The American republic owed its existence to them, but its citizens found it difficult to acknowledge that debt, much less honor their service." The exhibition "brings together paintings, artifacts, prints, and documents to address the post-war experiences of the men who won the Revolutionary War—not the famous generals and leading officers whose names appear in histories of the war, but rather the junior officers and enlisted men whose stories are less often told. The exhibition focuses on their return to civilian life, their reception by a country torn and bankrupted by eight years of war, and the nation’s gradual realization of its vast debt to the men who won our independence. A centerpiece of the show is John Neagle’s arresting portrait of a pensioner of the Revolution, painted in 1830 during the fight for comprehensive federal pensions for the remaining Revolutionary War veterans." The American Revolution Institute was created by the Society of the Cincinnati to promote understanding and appreciation of the American Revolution.
Image below: John Neagle’s painting, titled “Pensioner of the Revolution”
Planet Word -a language arts museum- is scheduled to open in the historic Franklin School building on Franklin Square at 13th & K in D.C. on May 31. The red brick building was designed by Adolf Cluss in 1869, and has been used for many purposes, including as a public school, a homeless shelter, a place for Alexander Graham Bell to test out his inventions, a teacher’s college and more. Cluss also designed other historic red brick buildings, including the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building and the Eastern Market.The Franklin School was one of the first public school buildings in the city and became a model for age-graded classrooms and curricula.Both the interior and the exterior of the building have historic preservation status. CEO and founder Ann B. Friedman, a philanthropist and former reading teacher who is married to New York Times opinion columnist Tom Friedman, is creating the new museum.D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser selected a firm to spearhead the project in 2015. Planet Word will not have a collection – rather its exhibits will all be experiential or technology-based.Friedman has commented that “Instead of artwork or historic objects, the exhibits will center around “nouns, verbs, adjectives, puns, questions and quotations.” There will be no charge for admission to the $50 million museum.
The Museum of the Bible opened two blocks from the National Mall in Southwest DC in November, 2017. The eight-story museum provides guests with “an immersive and personalized experience as they explore the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible.” The museum's cutting-edge technology is designed to bring the Bible to life. The museum “spans time, space, and cultures, inviting everyone to engage with the Bible. With three permanent sections and space for temporary exhibits, there will always be something new to explore.” The Museum Theatre opened with a production of Amazing Grace: The Musical. Please see the “Theatre in DC” column of this edition for more information about the theatre.
Image below: The entrance to the Museum of the Bible