This week we visited the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. It is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Washington, DC. The museum website promises “Glenstone is a place that seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and nature into a serene and contemplative environment.” and our visit shows they certainly deliver on that promise.
Reaching the Glenstone Museum was easy, with a pretty drive out of DC. They have several large parking lots and they are also located conveniently along a bus route for those who would prefer public transportation. Handicapped parking spots were available right in front of Arrival Hall.
During our visit they were limiting entry and had timed ticket access, so once we checked in with our ticket information we were off to explore!
Admission is free, but the Glenstone always limits the number of attendees and has a minimum age requirement of 12. Also, anyone under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult at all times.
What You’ll See:
Glenstone is an impressive collection of paths, trails, outdoor artwork, and indoor exhibits. We walked along the main pathway from Arrival Hall towards the Pavillions, passing the giant and impressive installation called “Split-Rocker”.
Outdoor pathways always make us a little nervous until we have visited in person. Often people don’t realize how difficult certain terrain can be in a wheelchair. However, the primary pathway connecting the exhibits at Glenstone is all smooth and wide, accommodating multiple groups and those with mobility needs easily. There is a gradual hill that runs nearly the full length of the walk, but it’s not too steep to navigate in a self-propelled chair and not only are there benches along the way to stop and rest if needed, but there are also tons of stunning flowers to pause and look at.
If the walk feels a little daunting, the museum also offers a small tram service to help you reach the various parts of the campus. Just check-in at the Arrival Hall for help. The staff across the entire museum is dressed in matching gray outfits, so it’s easy to spot who you can ask for help.
As you continue, you’ll reach The Pavillions and two more outdoor art pieces. The Pavillion includes indoor exhibits and an interesting mix of indoor-outdoor hybrid exhibits. They don’t allow photos inside any of the buildings, but it’s worth the time to look through!
The next part of the path leads you past the cafe, which was closed during our visit (June 2021), but they did have water stations which we really appreciated. There were more benches and everyone enjoyed having a moment in the trees to enjoy some cool water and rest. Then we crossed a bridge that led through a sensory and sound installation, and continued on.
Before entering the gallery, featuring the special exhibit by Faith Ringgold which brought us to the Glenstone that day, we encountered one final outdoor sculpture. A giant piece that you can explore inside and out. I loved taking pictures of this one. The passageway narrows a bit, but I could still reach my arms wall to wall, so I think an average adult-size wheelchair would be able to fit without problems.
Temporary Exhibit, Faith Ringgold:
Finally, we reached our destination, the temporary exhibit featuring the work of Faith Ringgold. Her works are on display until October 24, so if you are in the area I highly suggest trying to get a ticket to see this before the exhibit travels around the world. This is the only US stop on the tour!
I’ve been a fan of Ringgold’s work for a while because I like art that makes a statement. She uses a variety of mediums for her artwork, but I particularly like her quilt-style tapestry pieces. Since photos aren’t allowed inside, these photos all come from the Glenstone website. You can check out more photos and watch a video of Faith talking about her work, too!
The Glenstone has much more outdoor space to explore, so for those comfortable with rougher terrain, hours could be spent exploring the entire campus. I can’t wait to visit again for their next temporary exhibit and hope that the cafe will reopen soon. The landscaping is thoughtfully designed, as if it all just happened that way in nature but you can tell it is perfectly planned. I think it would be so cool to see it again in different seasons.
Anna’s Top 5:
If you want to check out the Glenstone Museum soon: