De­scrib­ing the Glen­stone Mu­seum

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A thou­sand thanks for the gor­geous pre­sen­ta­tion of the Sept. 30 Arts & Style ar­ti­cle “An oa­sis of art.” The twoplus-page spread com­bined nar­ra­tive, pho­tographs and lay­out to evoke the spirit of the Glen­stone Mu­seum. I can’t wait to go there. Lynn Mar­ble, Rockville

From “An oa­sis of art” in the Sept. 30 Arts & Style sec­tion and the Sept. 30 Washington Post Magazine cover ar­ti­cle “The col­lec­tors,” we learn a great deal about Glen­stone Mu­seum, its pa­trons and the artists whose work they col­lect, the ar­chi­tect of the new ad­di­tion, the de­sign­ers of the benches and even the iden­tity of the tree movers. How­ever, the iden­tity of the artist be­hind what is ar­guably the largest work of art — the 230-acre cam­pus — is nowhere to be found. This fail­ure to rec­og­nize the land­scape ar­chi­tect — in this case PWP Land­scape Ar­chi­tec­ture, which has been in­volved with the mu­seum since 2003 — is all too com­mon. Of­ten, it’s be­cause ar­chi­tec­ture-cen­tric me­dia — which fo­cus on and fetishize “the build­ing” — do the re­port­ing. But in the case of the Arts & Style ar­ti­cle, one of the two au­thors is The Post’s gar­den­ing writer Adrian Hig­gins. (To his credit, Philip Ken­ni­cott’s Sept. 22 front-page Critic’s Note­book, “At Glen­stone, fresh space as art­ful as its col­lec­tion,” rec­og­nized PWP.) It would seem that Glen­stone’s land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture is as in­te­gral to the mu­seum vis­i­tor’s ex­pe­ri­ence as the build­ings that house the art­work. The Arts & Style ar­ti­cle said the land­scape’s “nat­u­ral de­sign be­lies the ex­ten­sive earth­work and plant­ing of the site to soften the pres­ence of new build­ings that to­tal al­most a quar­ter-mil­lion square feet of space.” That tough job of mak­ing na­ture look nat­u­ral comes from care­fully shap­ing and sculpt­ing the land and a deft un­der­stand­ing of vis­ual and spa­tial re­la­tion­ships — that’s part of the art of land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture.

For­tu­nately, this was cor­rected with Mr. Hig­gins’s Oct. 3 Critic’s Note­book, “At the ex­panded Glen­stone, the land­scap­ing is as mind­ful as the art col­lec­tion” [Style], a lengthy fea­ture on the land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture and its land­scape ar­chi­tect. Charles A. Birn­baum, Washington The writer is pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Cul­tural Land­scape Foun­da­tion.


The Glen­stone Mu­seum in Po­tomac, Md.

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