Glenstone: Local Art Museum is Worth a Visit


photo by Madiston Hurr

Richard Serra’s Sylvester provides viewers with an interactive exhibit they can observe and walk through.

By Madison Hurr, Features Editor

Interested in modern art museums but don’t want to make the trek to D.C. or New York City? Look no further than Glen Road.

Spanning 200 acres of natural landscape, contemporary art and architecture, the Glenstone museum, located a mere four miles from CHS, is the perfect destination for art aficionados and art novices alike.

Glenstone is a museum curated by Mitchell and Emily Rales. Over the years, the Rales have been collecting pieces from artists all around the world. Though the Rales reside on the property at Glenstone and initially kept their art collection private, the museum building has been open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from 10 to 3 p.m. since 2006.

Driving onto the property, I was amazed by the stark contrast of the sleek limestone buildings to the more traditional houses I have been accustomed to seeing in Potomac. I felt like I had been transported onto the set of a futuristic movie.

One very intriguing piece was Richard Serra’s Sylvester, a torqued, spiral corridor-like structure through which museum-goers can walk. The contracting walls and elliptical structure create a very unique space–one that juxtaposes the perpendicular nature of the minimalist museum building beside it.

Exploring Glenstone won’t cost you a penny; visits are free with prior reservation. With a reservation comes the opportunity to embark on a 90-minute guided tour of the outdoor sculpture garden and artist Andy Goldsworthy’s Clay Houses along the wooded trails behind the main museum building.

After the tour, visitors are then free to tour the indoor exhibitions.

In the museum building, the current exhibition is Fred Sandback’s Light, Space, Facts. What’s so interesting about Sandback’s work is that it is centered around creating geometric figures with store-bought yarn. Yes, yarn. Talk about minimalism.

Unlike in the outdoor gardens, photography is not allowed inside the museum building. However, the simplistic, geometric yarn shapes spanning from ceiling to floor are definitely worth seeing in person–photos do not do the art justice.

From inside the building, guests can catch a glimpse of a serene duck pond and the Rales residence right behind it, a scene fit for a postcard.

Just when you thought Glenstone couldn’t get any more beautiful, a new expansion project is expected to be completed within the next two years. It will quadruple Glenstone’s existing gallery space. After the expansion, expect 50,000 more square feet of exhibition facilities, a central water garden, an arrival building, restored meadows and a cafe.