Glenstone Museum: a 230 acre private museum in Potomac, Maryland that integrates art, architecture and landscape into a ‘serene and contemplative environment’.
This has been our favorite local hidden gem we’ve found in quite some time. The clif notes version is it’s so good we’re going back. Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland popped up on our radar in Fall 2018 when select individuals were allowed to preview the five-year expansion of the now 204,000 square foot modern and contemporary art museum.
As soon as the free (seriously) reservations opened, I set my alarm and snagged January reservations. And yes, I got them in November. If you’re keeping track, April reservations will open in February. While it seems crazy to be booking so far in advance, this system keeps the visitor experience un-rushed and uncrowded. There are also no children under age 12 allowed and minors must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Which, to be honest, the ‘get off my lawn’ old lady in me kind of appreciates. After a December trip to the Museum of Modern art in New York that was overrun (total understatement) by kids taking selfies and darting from exhibit to exhibit, I have a new appreciation for age restriction in certain settings.
While Glenstone actually opened in 2006, it’s the massive expansion to the new building, ‘the Pavilions’ plus 130 acres of recently designed outdoor space that’s worth your visit. The Pavilions were designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners while the landscape architecture was designed by Adam Greenspan and Peter Walker of PWP Landscape Architecture. It is truly unlike anything in the DC area right now and if you went to the original Glenstone Museum, you MUST return for this update. Or at least to have lunch at the cafe (worth it).
After parking, you’re greeted for check in at the arrival hall and given a map to the property. You’ll walk to reveal the museum and a giant outdoor sculpture before continuing on to additional buildings. There are several outdoor sculpture tours (something we’ll come back and do in Spring) as well as a woods walk. While you could do the entire museum in a single trip, we felt breaking it into two trips will be a better experience for us.
As for the art itself- there are of course, no photos in this post. Number one, because you should experience it for yourself, but number two because you are literally not allowed to take pictures of the indoor art. There are some MAJOR pieces there, including the Marcel Duchamp “fountain” sculpture that I personally walked right by but Chris looked at me and said “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS?! THIS CHANGED ART FOREVER.” So to recap, Chris is a learned Renaissance man and I just tag along and listen.
What was most striking for Chris and I as we experienced Glenstone were the clearly intentional choices made throughout the property and each building. Hell, even the BATHROOMS were designed perfectly (how closely walls and doors aligned, built in items etc). Vent registers receded into walls and abutted windows to perfection. While some people would walk into these spaces and call them sparse, or as the boyfriend of my mother-in-law said about our house- ‘sterile’, simplicity is hard. It requires restraint and precision and a lot of thought. The more shi* you pile into a space, the less you have to think about adding more or what else you add. And that’s something we found as we redid our home- it’s hard to find contractors who take the time to be precise in a simple space (there’s floor tile in our kitchen that is not aligned and it kills us every time we see it). But maybe that’s just my minimalist showing…which is probably obvious since my outfit unintentionally matched the landscape of grey and brown neutrals.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.