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SPECIAL TRAVEL ISSUE | POST PRODUCTION

Estate Of The Arts

October 15, 2000

There's a voyeuristic thrill in visiting the personal museums of great art collectors, such as New York's Frick Collection or the Barnes Foundation outside Philadelphia. One fine example is the Hillwood Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C., which has reopened to the public after three years and $9 million in renovations.

The former estate of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post houses her renowned collections of 18th and 19th century Russian imperial art and 18th century French decorative art. It also offers a chance to experience the incredible splendor in which she lived.

Post bought the 36-room, Georgian-style mansion and lavish gardens in 1955 and spent two years turning the 25 acres into one of Washington's most extravagant estates. She filled the property with treasures she'd collected: Empress Alexandra of Russia's diamond crown, Faberge imperial Easter eggs, Sevres porcelain and objets d'art by Louis Cartier.

Hillwood originally opened to the public in 1977, four years after Post's death. But the museum's star attraction remains its creator and her fascinating life.

Hillwood Museum & Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.; (877) HILLWOOD for reservations (required), or e-mail reservations@hillwoodmuseum.org. There is a refundable reservation deposit of $10 for adults, $5 for children under 18. The museum is closed in February. For more information, http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org.

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