Making a trip to DC/Maryland area and need a unique museum to visit? Well there are plenty of sights and museums to behold but chances are that you may not have heard of Dumbarton Oaks. It is a research estate and institute of Harvard that consists of a research library, a garden and a museum. I took a Sunday afternoon after flying from Columbia Metroplitan Airport to Baltimore International to check out the museum.
I have recently, in the past 5 years, become more and more interested in the arts of Ancient Rome and Byzantine Empire. So it was no wonder why I knew I needed to check out the Dumbarton Oaks museum especially since I have been to most of the much-see historical attractions in the DC area.
This museum houses one of the best Byzantine collections in the U.S. besides maybe the Metropolitan Museum in New York. But the Met can’t beat the price of this museum’s visit which is free. Upon entering the museum you are greeted with an extant floor mosaic from the 5-7th century. There are several extant mosaic pieces from the various places in the Mediterranean region. And, you can walk on all of them. It felt unusual to be allowed to do so but then fullfills that “need” where you want to touch museum exhibits. It was amazing to be able to get up close and personal with tessera (indivual pieces of mosaic tile).
Another exhibit of note was a book written in Greek on display. The calligraphy was incredibly detailed for how small it was. The pictures I took don’t give the scale of the text size justice. The pages were roughly 5×7″ and the text was so small I was just in awe in the calligrapher’s skill. The page was open to reveal an illumination or manuscript painting that was a beautiful display of Byzantine art.
I was then surpised to discover the “miniature mosaic.” I had not heard of this style of mosaic art before and it was quite amazing. With indivdual tiles measuring less than a few millimeters the overall piece just sparkled of awesome.
The “coptic” textiles were something to behold as well. There were a few to take pictures of but they were a very small portion of what was on display. Dumbarton has a designated small room of textiles that photographs were not allowed. If you have the chance to get there it is not to be missed! The colors and designs in the textiles were surprising.
Dumbarton Oaks museum is located in Washington, D.C. and is free to visit. For more information and museum hours please visit: http://www.doaks.org/museum/
To visit my web album of various exhibits in the museum please visit: https://picasaweb.google.com/arwynn16/DumbartonOaks?authuser=0&feat=directlink