Ellsworth Kelly at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland

Jeff Koons’s Split Rocker at Glenstone

Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, Located less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, DC, it’s the most unique art museum in area.

From the first moment you drive into the gates at Glenstone, a whimsical green head blooming with flowers lets you know this is someplace special.

The Ellsworth Kelly Centennial Exhibit is on view at Glenstone.

This month, the new Ellsworth Kelly Centennial exhibit opened at Glenstone. Ellsworth Kelly at 100 charts the artist’s seven decade career and illuminates his contributions to American abstraction. The exhibit explores Kelly’s playful experimentation with form, color, line, and space through painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, and photography.

Spectrum IX (2014) by Ellsworth Kelly at Glenstone

Works on view include his seminal early paintings, such as Painting for a White Wall, (1952) and Painting in Three Panels (1956), as well as examples from the iconic Chatham and Spectrum series. My favorite is Spectrum IX, a rainbow of powerful colors, and his iconic Yellow Curve (1990), a huge floor painting installation that spans nearly 1000 square feet will be on view for the first time in more than thirty years. It’s truly breathtaking.

This is an incredible opportunity to see how an acclaimed artist develops art over time. How he tries new mediums but each has an impact on the other. There are also papers and letters from Kelly on view. This exhibit is a must-see for modern art lovers and will be on display until March 2024.

Ellsworth Kelly’s famous Yellow Curve is a prominent piece in the exhibit. It takes up the whole room!

Glenstone opened its doors in 2008 and ten years later, expanded by opening two cafes, a woodland trail, outdoor patios, and the Pavilions – zinc, granite, and stainless-steel structures beautifully integrated with the landscape. The most notable feature of the Pavilions is a stunning water court, that changes with the season. In the summer it’s full of irises, water lilies, rushes and cattails.

From every window of the Pavilions, you can see the water court.

Inside the Pavilions are 11 rooms dedicated to single works of art, both traveling pieces, and art from Glenstone’s permanent collection. The museum offers a unique opportunity to speak to guides positioned throughout the museum, who offer knowledgeable insights and chat with guests about their impressions.

Glenstone has miles of walking trails interspersed with sculptures.

There are a dozen outdoor sculptures positioned around the property. The most famous is Split Rocker by Jeff Koons, a blooming sculpture that is planted from May through October. There are three stone and wood cabins constructed by Andy Goldsworthy, which you can enter. You’ll also find Richard Serra’s “Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure” along the boardwalk which zigzags a path through the woods. 

The guides are positioned throughout the Pavilions and other parts of the museum to discuss your impressions and answer questions.

Best of all, admission and parking are free, but reservations are required. No pets, or children under twelve (except for infants under one year) are allowed since there are no barriers around the art. The hours are Thursday through Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. The Café and Patio are open from 10:30 until 4 pm. A guided nature walk meets daily at 1 pm. Wear comfortable walking shoes and get ready to experience some great art. 

Glenstone information here.

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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