Hillwood Museum & Gardens is the generous legacy of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Postum Cereal Company. Mrs. Post was an art enthusiast and a gifted collector of decorative arts; especially noteworthy is the outstanding collection of Russian artifacts from her time living in Russia from 1937 to 1938. Fellow James Gagliardi remarked about her collections, “From fine paintings and furniture, to porcelain and Fabergé eggs, the lessons and history available from these artifacts was amazing.”
Mrs. Post’s eye for beauty resonates not only inside the mansion but out into her home’s stunning landscape as well. There is an apparent symbiosis between the museum and the gardens, which makes Hillwood such a unique example of public horticulture. Hillwood thrives with its variety of garden spaces including a formal French-inspired garden, a rose garden, a golf putting green, a pet cemetery, and a Japanese-style garden.
The preservation and sustainability of Hillwood was initiated by Mrs. Post. It was Mrs. Post’s vision for Hillwood to be a museum as well as a residence. With the renovation of the property in 1957, the implementation of a cataloging system and standard museum practices early on, and the establishment of an endowment, Mrs. Post ensured that her collections would have a long future ahead of them.
Since Mrs. Post’s death in 1973, the legacy of Hillwood has been placed in the very capable hands of the board and the staff members. Mr. Brian Barr, Deputy Director of Horticulture, remarked, “[his] job is to keep the legacy Mrs. Post laid.” Even with a reasonable endowment in place, Hillwood is still a fiscally conscious organization and endowment sustainability plays a large role in the decisions made for both the museum and the gardens.