Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC

#9 of 27 in Parks in Washington DC
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships, meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its own publications (such as the Dumbarton Oaks Papers and symposium volumes) as well as through the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (published by Harvard University Press). Dumbarton Oaks also makes accessible ever more of its resources freely online.

The founding donors, Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, called upon future policy-makers “to remember that Dumbarton Oaks is conceived in a new pattern, where quality and not number shall determine the choice of its scholars; that it is the home of the Humanities, not a mere aggregation of books and objects of art; that the house itself and the gardens have their educational importance and that all are of humanistic value.” These ambitions continue to guide Dumbarton Oaks, but with close attention to ensuring that the Blisses’ “new pattern” retains its vitality through constant renewal.
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Dumbarton Oaks Reviews
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276 reviews
  • Dumbarton Oaks provides a quiet sanctuary from the noise and hussle of the city just a few blacks from the busiest part of Georgetown. Get out and walk among the gardens and gravesites of history. Spr...  more »
  • While visiting Georgetown this was a to do stop. The museum is filled with exquisite displays of prehistoric art. There is a small gift shop. Free admission. Parking is tight, and difficult to find li...  more »
  • Despite being closed the gardens, the quality of the indoor Museum is exceptional. A luxury. The pre-Columbian area into an extension of the great architect Philip Johnson is what most struck me. Small museum. Everything inside is seen in 1 hour. It is free.
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  • Randomly ran into this museum and it's definitely worth a visit. It's free and they have all kinds of ancient artifacts displayed in a very unique set up. The museum was designed by a famous architect (can't remember who) and it's a unique design with a lot of windows.
  • I can't wait for the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens to reopen!! Such a remarkable, historic gift to the city to roam both the gardens AND Museum. One of the largest collections of pre-Columbian art is housed at Dumbarton Oaks - and there is the added wonderment of great work on behalf of the United Nations and world peace.
  • I wrote a review a while back, but when I look back on what I wrote I feel I have not done this museum justice. The history of the building and land it is built on is reason enough to visit, let alone the incredible Byzantine and Pre-Columbian collection within the museum itself. Most people who visit DC think the Smithsonian museums are the best the city has to offer. While the Smithsonian museums are great, they lack a certain intimacy. If you're a lover of history, art, or gardens Dumbarton Oaks is the museum to visit! The Pre-Columbian exhibits are housed in a wonderfully designed addition to the main house. The exhibits do a great job of telling the story of Pre-Columbian America. I have never quite been interested in history of this sort, but the museum does a fine job piquing my interest nonetheless. If you find yourself alone in one of the circular Pre-Columbian rooms, stand in the center with your head angled up slightly and whisper something - you'll thank me later. The Byzantine collection is an amazing set of art, coins, textiles, and artifacts. It gives an intimate look into one of the most influential and important powers of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. More importantly, it allows you to not only see the Byzantine Empire as a whole, but to get insight into how the people who made up the empire lived their lives. It tells a story of how religion, economy, and culture came together in Byzantium. I've lived in DC for about 5 years now, and whenever family or friends visit I make it a point to take them to Dumbarton Oaks. Once you visit this museum you will feel like you've discovered a hidden treasure that is off the beaten path just enough to feel like it's your own personal gem. I highly encourage you to read about the history of the estate and the surrounding land, as well as visit the Dumbarton Oaks Garden and the park located behind the estate.
  • Great and small museum in a house that has very interesting architecture. Very friendly and knowledgeable host. We spent about 1.5 hours as the pre-columbian exhibit was breathtaking. Looking forward to coming back in 2018 after they finish the gardens' renovation!
  • Nice museum. Is free. And it have a wide variety of items from different ages.
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