Skip to Content

A Century in the Gardens

In June of 1921, Beatrix Farrand began her work designing Robert and Mildred Bliss’s home in Georgetown. Writing in June of 1922, about preliminary plans, Farrand recognized in the property and her clients a garden of possibilities: “The Oaks offers opportunities for development on so many different lines that it is difficult to know which to emphasize most strongly in the beginning.” Farrand goes on to detail a vision that she would come to work on for the next twenty years.

The Garden Centennial recognizes a century of stewardship and preservation of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens through celebrations and exhibits. We will explore the different ways the gardens and landscape as a work of art has been utilized, with thoughts on the next hundred years. Using digitally accessible materials, curatorial newsletters, and in-person exhibitions, the Garden Centennial commemorates one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

Banner photographs by Sahar Coston-Hardy

Exhibiting the Gardens

Our first on-site exhibition A Century in the Gardens celebrates the 100th anniversary of Beatrix Farrand’s design of the Dumbarton Oaks landscape. The exhibit includes archival images, as well as newly commissioned photographs, a design timeline, and selections from the Rare Book Collection. The exhibit opens in the Dumbarton Oaks Orientation Gallery on February 28, 2022.

A Virtual Walk through the Gardens

The digital exhibitions of each garden room, released on a monthly schedule, include design timelines, object and archival highlights, as well as new narratives of the place so many of us know so well. The exhibitions follow a progression through the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, suggesting a walking tour of the garden rooms.


Writing the Gardens

Accompanying the garden room exhibition is an essay series in the Oaks News drawing on scholarship from a range of disciplines, revisiting materials from the last century, as well as notes from the curators on the process of curating the Centennial. Read the most recent articles below, or browse the entire series.

Jan 24, 2022

Keeping Time with Nature

Telling the story and restoration of Dumbarton Oaks Park
Feb 28, 2022

Curating “A Century in the Gardens”

Garden centennial exhibit opens this month in the Orientation Gallery
Apr 06, 2021

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens as Archive

Beginning a year of celebration

Art + The Garden

Art + The Garden is a podcast series comprised of edited recorded interviews with the five land artists who exhibited work as part of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Art Installation Program. The podcast will explore each of the artists’ personal practices, their production processes, their work at Dumbarton Oaks, and the history of land art more broadly. These conversations will offer new perspectives on programming in designed landscapes, and the potential evolving future artistic interactions with the Dumbarton Oaks gardens.


A Celebration in Print

In addition to the digital exhibition, Dumbarton Oaks is publishing two books that both honor and celebrate the gardens. One, by Jonathan Kavalier, Director of Gardens and Grounds, revisits Beatrix Farrand’s Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks, while the other is comprised of eight essay contributions on the concept of “the garden as art” and a series of newly commissioned photographs by landscape architecture photographer Sahar Coston-Hardy.