(301) 983-5001
12002 Glen Road
Potomac, Maryland 20854

Sunday-Tuesday the museum is closed
Advance reservations must be made for admittance which is free.

Read all about the Glenstone Museum: Message from the Founders, Mission and the Collection: Glenstone

Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org/An outside sculpture

Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org/An outside sculpture

Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org It was a lovely spring day. Bill and I drove to Potomac, Maryland to visit the Glenstone Museum. What an amazing place---a true gem! Generally, I am not particularly a fan of contemporary or modern art; however, this museum awakened a true sense of appreciation for this venue. The indoor exhibit, Light, Space, Facts, by Fred Sandback showing through December 2016, was absolutely amazing as were the outside sculptures and grounds, as well.

Read all about the Glenstone Museum: Message from the Founders, Mission and the Collection: Glenstone

The following was taken directly from the Official Website: "Highly attuned to the relationship between art and its architectural surroundings, Fred Sandback (b. Bronxville, NY, 1943 - d. New York City, 2003) is best known for immersive installations made from simple, store-bought yarn. By using the yarn to outline geometric volumes within otherwise empty rooms, Sandback created dynamic perceptual situations and complicated our ordinary way of seeing. As the artist said, 'My work is not illusionistic in the normal sense of the word. It doesn't refer away from itself to something that isn't present. Its illusions are simply present aspects of it. Illusions are just as real as facts, and facts are just as ephemeral as illusions.' Glenstone's exhibition will feature examples of drawing, wooden relief, and both wire and yarn sculpture from each decade of the artist's career." Fred Sandback: Light, Space, Facts

Photography was not permitted inside the museum. In order to see examples of this exhibition: Fred Sandback/Archive

"In September 2006, Glenstone opened its doors to the public, inviting visitors to discover a new kind of museum. Glenstone is located on 200 acres of land just outside Washington, D.C. on a former foxhunting estate. Over the course of twenty years, the property was transformed into an environment where art, architecture, and landscape combine to create a singular and unified experience.

At the heart of Glenstone is its preeminent collection of post-World War II and contemporary art. Rotating exhibitions are presented in a building designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, while monumental outdoor sculpture is presented in a landscape designed by Peter Walker and Partners. These settings exist to exhibit works of art that represent the greatest historical shifts in how art is seen and experienced." Glenstone Museum/Official Website

A Word About Mitchell Rales

"Mitchell Rales (born 1956 (age 59-60)) is an American businessman and a collector of modern and contemporary art. He has been a director of Danaher Corporation since 1983. In collaboration with his wife Emily Wei Rales, an art historian and curator, he has established Glenstone, a museum in Potomac, Maryland, which presents exhibitions of their collection of modern and contemporary art and installations of outdoor sculpture.

Early life and education

Raised in a Jewish family, Mitchell is one of four sons of Norman and Ruth Rales. His father was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City and later became a very successful businessman who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the U.S. His father was also a philanthropist founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Mitchell has three brothers: Joshua, Steven, and Stewart.

Mitchell grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 1974. He earned a degree in business administration at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1978 and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.


...In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother Steven M. Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, in 1978, and then Danaher, in 1984. In the 1980s, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992. In 1988, he made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, Inc, which was, at the time, the nation's largest manufacturer of furniture and men's shoes (owning both Converse shoes and the Ethan Allen furniture). He later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million. In May 2008, they engineered the initial public offering of Colfax, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer.


He is on the board of the National Gallery of Art and is a former board member of the Hirshhorn Museum.


Glenstone presents rotating exhibitions of modern and contemporary masterworks drawn from its own collection and a selection of outdoor sculptures by modern and contemporary masters, sited on 200 acres (81 ha) of landscaped lawns, meadows, and woods in Potomac, Maryland. The first museum building, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, opened to the public in 2006. A second museum building, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, began construction in 2013. The Glenstone collection also continues to expand. Admission to Glenstone's exhibitions (such as a retrospective of the work of Peter Fischli and David Weiss) is free, with advance reservation required.

The original Glenstone museum building overlooks a 3-acre (1.2 ha) pond. The 22,000 square-foot (2,000 m2) museum is a multiple volume, single-level structure clad in zinc panels and French limestone. A large, naturally lit sculpture gallery is the organizing element for a sequence of 18-foot (5.5 m)-high gallery spaces with state-of-the-art museum environmental controls, and an administrative office suite. The sculpture gallery is also the gathering space for receptions and special events and opens onto a terrace overlooking the pond and grounds. Support space to one side of the galleries includes high-density art storage, temporary holding space, a service dock and a catering kitchen.

Visitors to the organically maintained museum grounds, designed by PWP Landscape Architects, pass through an entry gatehouse and then drive along a maple tree-lined road, passing between two commissioned sculptures by Richard Serra and Tony Smith. The cobblestone entry court, anchored by another Richard Serra piece, has views of the pond, the residence and a commissioned Ellsworth Kelly totem sculpture which acts as the site's fulcrum.... For a 150-acre estate, PWP created a landscape that engages the architecture, art, and ecological systems of the Potomac River Valley. The site was re-graded from its subdivision state with rough transitions smoothed and angular slopes removed. Two hundred existing trees-root-pruned and transplanted to new locations on site-were supplemented with 1,800 trees raised in an on-site nursery to form a landscape that reads at a grand scale.

The new museum building will be a 150,000-square-foot structure designed as a series of pavilions, which appear to be embedded in a hilltop. The linked pavilions, built of stacked concrete blocks and glass, face inward to a central water courtyard. Also included in the design as separate structures are an arrival pavilion and a cafe, both built out of cedar.

In July 2012, the Washington Post reported on controversy in the local community over Rales's request to connect the museum to the mains sewer to support the expansion of Glenstone. The Montgomery County authorities subsequently approved Rales's request unanimously. On July 30, 2012, the Glenstone grounds were featured on the PBS program Growing A Greener World.

In November 2015, the New York Times reported the museum claimed an annual attendance of 25,000 visitors, about 125 per day based on the facility being open four days a week. Reservations are required to visit the museum.

Personal life

Rales has been married twice: Lyn Goldthorp Rales with whom he has two children. They divorced in 1999. Their son Matthew founded the grass-based livestock farm 'Grassential LLC.' Emily Wei (b. 1976), the director of Glenstone

For More Information:

Fred Sandback/Archive
Mitchell Rales
A Very Private Collection
First posted: Mar 31, 2016
Last update: Jan 20, 2020