I first read about the Kreeger in an article about dubious private museums. Two DC area institutions were mentioned: the Kreeger Museum in DC proper and the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland (which, if you only from the Real Housewives of Potomac, you will not realize is actually rich, white, and equestrian). The dubiousness came from the possibility that the museums mainly existed as vehicles for tax mitigation.
Naturally, I had to visit them. Eventually.
Several years after reading the article, we finally made it to the Kreeger, in the Palisades neighborhood of DC. A low slung building of elegant, off white stone, the museum itself was designed by my favorite architect, Philip Johnson. It rather resembles a building wide expansion of the wing he designed for another DC museum, Dumbarton Oaks, to hold its Pre-Columbian collection.
The Kreeger, despite some excellent Southeast Asian sculptures, is primarily about pre-WWII European art. But darn, if it doesn’t have some great pieces.
Seven or eight Picassos. One from the sixties, but the rest from his early days through his peak in the thirties. Seven or eight Monets (a mixture of Giverny landscapes and marine paintings). Two Van Goghs. A Chagall. Two Gorkys. Some excellent, small Rodins. A couple of Miros. A Kandinsky. A Pissaro. There were even two very early Mondrians, which were deeply confusing because they were fairly straightforward, representationalist pieces.
All of them, really excellent.
The outside of building, once you got beyond a terrace filled with at least one Jean Arp and other pieces that looked relatively contemporary to him (they were poorly identified, if I have a criticism of the museum), with the rest of the grounds scattered with contemporary pieces.
It’s shameless, rich man exceptionalism at its worst. But well worth seeing.