Sunday, October 12, 2014
A visit to Hillwood
When: Cartier exhibit is on display until December 31, 2014
Marjorie Merriweather Post, the heir to the Post cereal fortune, purchased Hillwood in 1955; it opened to the public in 1977. It contains her collection of art and decorative items, which focus on both French and Russian pieces.
From a chair owned by Marie Antoinette to Russian icons purchased after the revolution, each room is, in its own way, fabulous. It is, frankly, a bit overwhelming, especially for the first-time visitor. Happily, an audio tour is included in the price of admission, so you at least know what you're looking at as you wander from room to room.
My particular reason for going was to see the special exhibit on her collection of Cartier pieces, which is set up in the Adirondack Building. (Note that there are several buildings on the estate, plus the gardens, so it's a good idea to get a map at the information desk.) Post was one of the Cartier brothers' most important clients; she purchased pieces from them for many years and wore their jewelry while being presented at Court, while attending diplomatic social events in Russia, as the wife of the ambassador and while serving as a prominent socialite in the United States. The display is relatively small - just one room, so you can look at everything in a short time.
Hillwood has a lovely gift shop, which is open to the public, even if you don't pay admission to the house, so think of it as the holiday season approaches. You can easily spend the best part of a day here, especially if you have a fine day and want to walk around the gardens.
Verdict: A wonderful place to visit, a bit off the beaten path, but well worth a trip!