Dumbarton Oaks, The Museum
Not simply a glorious urban garden (named no. 6 in the world by National Geographic), a park and an historic Georgetown estate, Dumbarton Oaks is also a museum. Enthusiastic collectors, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss initiated the museum collections in the first half of the twentieth century and provided the vision for future acquisitions after giving Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940.
Sharing a taste in the art of little-known or under-appreciated cultures, the Blisses developed unique collections with the help of knowledgeable friends and scholarly advisors. They envisioned Dumbarton Oaks as a home of the Humanities, a place of natural serenity and intellectual adventure.
The Byzantine Collection opened to the public in 1940. The Music Room, built in 1928, displays works of art of the so-called House Collection, and the Pre-Columbian Collection was installed in 1963 in a wing added to the existing buildings and designed by Philip Johnson.
Take a look at their current online exhibitions:
For over a thousand years the Byzantine Emperor ruled as God's regent of earth. The decisions of the individuals who sat on the throne had repercussions throughout the Byzantine world and far beyond. Decrees, letters, judgments, and commands left Constantinople every day signed by the emperor in red ink and secured with the imperial seal. The designs of the imperial seals provide an insight into the minds and policies of the rulers whose image they bore; they tell us not only how they wished to be viewed by the recipients of their letters, but also how they viewed themselves.
One hundred twenty seven Byzantine coins, one for each Byzantine emperor, plus the few usurpers who struck coins are presented in this online exhibition. All the objects have been selected from the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Coin Collection in order to present the viewer with a glimpse into one of the largest Byzantine coin collections in the world.
To accompany the 2013 Spring Symposium "New Testament in Byzantium," this exhibit presents and discusses several of the rare Byzantine lead seals from the collection that depict New Testament narrative scenes and figures.