Visiting Glenwood at Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood

Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood is not, as far as I know, the nearest Metro to any museum in the usual sense of the word. However, it is near historic Glenwood Cemetery, an example of one of those murky categories of places that can sometimes be considered, or experienced as, museums. While I would not classify most cemeteries as museums, I did include both Arlington National Cemetery and Congressional Cemetery as destinations in Weekly Museum Visits.

Glenwood is a place of history in its own right, having been officially established under its current name in 1854. Constantino Brumidi (painter of so much of the interior of the United States Capitol) and Clarke Mills (who cast the Capitol’s Statue of Freedom) are both buried here, as are some notable leaders and teachers in DC history.

Insofar as Glenwood can be construed as a history museum (or at least, an informal learning environment with historical objects), I would argue that it can also be considered an example of crowd curation. The objects are selected not by curators but by the loved ones of the deceased, created with a personal favorite quote or image in mind.


Glenwood Cemetery

There are gravestones of varying degrees of fanciness, angels and lambs, a touching image of a young man (who died way too young) with his beloved dog. In addition to the grave markers meant to last far into the future, the flowers placed on graves are a more temporary example of objects contributed by members of the public. Glenwood’s website notes that after a woman named Daisy died, “her husband planted each spring a blanket of cultivated daisies on her grave” for the rest of his life.

Since the cemetery is still selling plots and serving as a site for funeral services, the historic cemetery is continuing to witness history as tributes to loved ones are added. New permanent headstones and briefly blooming flowers will continue to shape the cemetery, and the experience of mourners as well as visitors passing through.

Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood is on the Red Line.


About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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