Hillwood: Living Artfully

This past week I had the opportunity to preview the new exhibit at the Hillwood estate here in DC: Living Artfully, at home with Marjorie Merriweather Post. I've written about Hillwood many times in the past and am lucky enough to live just a few blocks away. This new exhibit provides some new thrilling opportunities previously unseen at Hillwood!
The exhibit is actually more of an event as parts are to be found throughout the estate focusing on Marjorie's role as hostess at her 4 main estates: Hillwood, Mar-A-Lago, TopRidge, and her yacht, the Sea Cloud.
I'm most excited about this exhibit because this is what I find so fascinating about house museums: I want to know how people actually LIVED. The image above show the dining room with its Mar-A-Lago dining table shown uncovered for a change and set as for a dinner at her Palm Beach estate. Information, photographs, and videos make you feel as though you yourself were a guest!
However the most exciting thing to come out of this exhibit are areas previously unseen in the mansion have been refurbished so they can be opened to the public. Above you see the very utilitarian 50's wetbar located just outside of the Pavilion where Marjorie hosted square dancing as well as first-run movies.
Interesting tidbit; Marjorie's staff were all welcome to watch the movies along with her guests and in the prime spot no less. Staff watched the movie from the balcony while guests sat below in Jansen styled sofas.
Located just off the main entry hall, the ladies powder room has also been opened to the public for the first time (seen above). Family wedding photos are displayed here gallery style on silk bedecked walls.
Check out the period fixtures including pink toilet paper! Interestingly enough, Marjorie purchased home fragrances in such bulk that the museum still has a quantity and uses it to this day in specific areas of the house (smells rather like face powder).
Located just off Marjorie's bedroom suite, her personal beauty parlor is also now open to the public. More photographs of family and friends are adjacent to the latest technology in haircare of the day.
As part of the exhibit the closets are fully stocked as when Marjorie is in residence. At the time her personal maid, Eva Zackrisson, would bring a week's worth at a time down from the main closet in the attic.  Also shown are adorable hooked bathmats used at her numerous houses. As you can see Marjorie loved pink!
 Above you see a collection of her day-wear along with coordinating hats.
Beneath some of her jewelry a small collection of her Bob Inc shoes are shown in different shades to match her numerous ensembles; for both day and evening.
Yet another closet in the dressing area houses some of her evening gowns from 1958-1964 on custom crocheted hangers. Who doesn't want to see this stuff!?
One more space open to the public is a basement bomb shelter (one of 4 on the estate). Notice the pink?  Marjorie provided enough space in the shelters for all of her staff: a gracious hostess as well as a gracious employer.
 Items from her yacht, Sea Cloud, are exhibited in the library.
 Including her custom embroidered shoes which she would occasionally wear on board.
The Snooze Room lies at the top of the main staircase and was where a guest could rest while visiting for the day. It also provided a small separate bedroom for children to the adjacent guest suite.
Out in the Adirondack Pavilion collections from Marjorie's summer house in the mountains, Top Ridge, are displayed.
 I loved this canoe!
 Marjorie even had luggage specifically for each location -notice the tag on the case above?
And what is a society hostess without her napkins embroidered in her monogram. I'll leave you with the adorable little dog annunciation device Marjorie used at Top Ridge.
Everyone must go to Hillwood to see this wonderful exhibit and remember, the collections are updated constantly with always something new to see! The exhibit will run from June 8, 2013 until January 12, 2014.

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