Marjorie Merriweather Post bought Hillwood in 1955 and renovated the property with the intention of leaving it as a museum that would inspire and educate the public. Hillwood opened as a public institution in 1977, endowing the country with the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, a distinguished 18th-century French decorative art collection, six working greenhouses boasting one of the country’s finest orchid collections, and twenty-five acres of serene landscaped gardens and natural woodlands for all to enjoy.
With over 16,000 objects, collection highlights include: two Imperial Fabergé Easter eggs; a Rolltop Desk by Abraham and David Roentgen; two chests of drawers by Jean-Henri Riesener; A Portrait of the Duchess of Parma and Her Daughter by Jean-March Nattier; A Portrait of Countess Samoilova by Karl Briullov; A Boyar Wedding Feast by Konstantin Egorovich Makovskii; bleu céleste wares by the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory; and a chasuble (Russian Orthodox liturgical vestment) worn by a bishop during the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896. Additional highlights include Beauvais tapestries from the 1730s, table services commissioned by Catherine the Great, Russian Orthodox Church objects, rare lace tablecloths, Wedgwood ceramics, bloodstone objects, and jewelry by Harry Winston and Cartier.
Since 1997, Hillwood has presented a range of scholarly special exhibitions to build on the international nature of the collections. In 2012, with the presentation of Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, Hillwood launched a new program that adds contemporary and outdoor initiatives to the ongoing presentation of exhibitions to offer added perspectives on the collections, gardens, and the Marjorie Merriweather Post life story.