Dumbarton Oaks a Center of Learning, Landscaping in Georgetown

Dumbarton Oaks

Spring is here: Cherry blossoms paint the landscape pink at Dumbarton Oaks, where visitors will find roughly 10 acres of terra firma dedicated to gardens. (john weiss via Flickr)

One great thing about renting in Washington, D.C., is the plethora of cultural treasures and historic sites in the area. I’m going to highlight one today many people may not know about or have forgotten: Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.

An institute of Harvard University, the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is “dedicated to supporting scholarship internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, meetings, exhibitions, and publications.” Well, that’s certainly a mouthful, but a lot goes on that the apartment renter in Georgetown can take advantage of.

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The library collection itself contains some 200,000-plus items in different formats, but you need prior authorization as a reader to use them. That’s OK, if you already have reader authorization, what do you need me to pontificate about Dumbarton Oaks for? This post is more for regular people who may want to check out the other parts of the facility.

The most striking thing about the place is its collection of gardens. There are plenty of different types of gardens, as their virtual tour demonstrates. Dumbarton Oaks just entered its regular season (March 15 to Oct. 31), where the gardens are open daily (except Mondays) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (an hour later than in winter season).


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Dumbarton Oaks
1703 32nd St., NW
Washington, DC 20007

General admission in the regular season is $8; $5 for students, children aged 2-12 and those 60-plus. It’s free in the winter.

Ever wonder what’s blooming and when? Well, Dumbarton has a garden blog that tells you. Guided tours are available, but my guess is it would be fun just to wander around here on your own.

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Speaking of tours, Dumbarton Oaks’ museum offers them as well. The museum connects “scholars with art, and art scholarship with the public,” their galleries featuring “Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art” and “European masterpieces on view in the historic Music Room, and a rotating program of Special Exhibitions.”

One such exhibition on display until July 31, “Cross References,” explores this iconic symbol of Christianity, featuring over 200 objects.

Renters in Georgetown – and the rest of the city itself – would do themselves a cultural favor or two by trekking out to Dumbarton Oaks. It’s a regional treasure to be sure.