Glenstone Museum

By Dora Dmitriev

Growing up in a suburb of Washington D.C., my family and I would always head into the city to visit museums. Little did I know, barely a 10 minute drive from my childhood home stands The Glenstone. The name "Glenstone" is derived from Glen Road, where the property line begins and after the stone native to the area. The Glenstone was opened by couple Mitchell and Emily Rales whose own home stands on the 230 acre property. Both passionate art collectors, they wanted a place to bring art, architecture, and nature together and thoughtfully display their collection of post- World War II art. A trip to Glenstone is an experience into understanding art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Home of the Glenstone Founders

In 2006 the first Glenstone Gallery opened its doors, designed by Gwathmey Seigel & Associates Architects. The original gallery as well as all the architecture on the property is modern and minimal in design to not take away from the incredible nature it stands amid. Neutral tones are used throughout with wooden details and plenty of windows with views to nature.

Glenstone Gallery

Detail of gallery floor

The Pavilions opened this October, offering an extra 50,000 square feet of exhibition space for solo-artists and changing exhibitions. Designed by Thomas Phifer, natural light is the main source of light for these 11 rooms. Large windows and clerestories make for a perfect place to exhibit artwork. The rooms are connected by a glass passageway with views to a stunning water court filled with water lilies and other plants.

Pavilions and water court

Large windows in glass passageway

Stairs with view of clerestories

Sculpture in passageway

Small library with amazing view

The exhibits on display include paintings, indoor and outdoor sculptures, and multisensory installations. Minimal signage throughout the museum allows the viewer to interpret the artwork in their own way. Each room has knowledgeable guides dressed in all gray uniforms, so they are easily identifiable and blend in with the environment. The guides are all artists and creatives themselves and are happy to provide more information or to have an artistic discussion.

Pavilion art gallery with clerestories

Room 9 Artwork by Lygia Pape

With a fantastic permanent collection, rotating new exhibits and unbeatable backdrop, Glenstone is a great museum to visit year-round. I look forward to visiting again in the winter or spring to see how the change of seasons will transform the remarkable landscape and architecture. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the D.C. area.

Family silhouettes with fall foliage