ONE FINE FRIDAY morning this summer, my husband and I had a rare couple of hours to spare, with the kids out and about and work that could be put on hold. We wanted go to the Mall to see an art exhibit but didn’t have enough time or energy to deal with the traffic and parking hassles of a weekday outing in the District. With a window this small, we decided to check out Glenstone in Potomac, and we were delighted to discover this hidden gem just a few minutes away from home.
Glenstone holds the private collection of Mitchell Rales and his wife, Emily, who opened their 150-plus acre estate and museum to the public about eight years ago. As we made our way along the shady tree-lined driveway, we were enthralled by the grounds filled with fields of wildflowers and grasses designed by Peter Walker and Partners. Even more impressive were the enormous outdoor sculptures by artists, including Jeff Koons, Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly.
The contemporary building housing the museum, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, is a work of art in itself, made of clean lines and angles, vast open spaces and plenty of huge windows to draw in light and to permit expansive views of the lovely grounds and ponds beyond its walls. The museum is now showing the works of contemporary Swiss artists Peter Fischli and the late David Weiss, two lifelong colleagues who shared studio space as well as a quirky and eclectic artistic sense that raised keen observations on the themes of everyday life. Four friendly and knowledgeable docents led us and eight other visitors through clay and rubber sculptures, a replica of the artists’ shared workspace all made of polyurethane and a massive slide table exposing their world travels that took us far, far away, but were bound together by colors, themes and overlapping images. This exhibit runs until Dec. 20; the art of Fred Sandback opens the following day.
Admission is free; advance reservations for tours, which run from 60 to 90 minutes, are required and can be made online. A limited number of visitors are permitted every hour Wednesday through Saturday. Tours of the outdoor sculptures may be offered again in September.
I recommend you take your tour soon. Work has already begun on a second 150,000-square-foot building, which will be one of world’s largest privately owned galleries open to the public. Once it’s completed in 2016, Glenstone will be much grander and less intimate. We’re already making plans to take our parents this fall and consider Glenstone a must for our next out-of-town guests.
— Anne Kisslinger
Anne Kisslinger is the social media director of MyLittleBird.