For this issue of the Museums section, the editors asked national correspondents to tell us about their favorite museums:
It’s nearly impossible to enter the National Sporting Library & Museum,on the edge of this bucolic town about 45 miles west of Washington, without being drawn toward a nine-foot-high, charcoal-toned sculpture of a majestic horse’s head.
One yearns to stroke the long, curved ears, marvel at the shape, and stand mesmerized by the rich patina.
The work is “Still Water,” created in 2011 by the British sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green, and it sets a tone of wonder for horses and equine sports that carries throughout the 13,000-square-foot museum’s 11 galleries.
The museum’s permanent collection consists of more than 1,100 objects of American and European sporting art, including paintings, sculpture, prints, photography, weather vanes and objects d’art dating from the late 17th century to the present. Some of the prominent featured artists are Sir Alfred James Munnings, Ben Marshall, Jean Bowman, Michael Lyne and Richard Stone Reeves.
The collection, housed in Vine Hill, a red-brick house built in 1804 and its Federal revival addition, represents subjects related to equestrian pursuits such as thoroughbred racing, dressage, eventing, steeplechasing and polo. Angling and shooting are also featured, but the horse is the star.
In front of the museum, a bronze statue of a cavalry horse honors the 1.5 million horses and mules lost during the Civil War. It was commissioned by the philanthropist Paul Mellon, who resided in nearby Upperville until his death in 1999.
The National Sporting Library, adjacent to the museum, holds more than 26,000 books on equestrian, angling and field sports. A rare book room houses more than 4,000 volumes, some from the 16th century. The library also owns important manuscript, archives and periodicals, and has an audiovisual center.
“A Sporting Vision: The Paul Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA),” a traveling exhibition,, will be on display from April 13 to July 22. Six of the 84 works are by the British painter George Stubbs.
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