DAR Museum

U.S. history with a side of interior design inspiration

September 6, 2012

The New York room’s bird-bedecked wallpaper is still on trend today.

Here at their headquarters, the Daughters of the American Revolution express their love of the USA in the language of home decor. Galleries of artifacts donated by members and 31 period rooms, each representing a state, purpose and style, stand up for such evergreen ideals as knickknack collecting, bold color palettes and indestructible wood furniture.

With its Chinese-inspired branches and birds, the snazzy hand-painted wallpaper in the New York room could be straight from a modern-day nesting catalog. The Massachusetts room is modeled on the parlor where John Hancock and Sam Adams received Paul Revere’s news that the British were coming. Look for the bullet holes in the paneling and furniture of the New Jersey room — the wood was salvaged from the British frigate Augusta, sunk during the Revolutionary War.

The library is a hot destination for genealogical researchers. Don’t expect to waltz in and instantly discover you’re DAR-eligible: These things take time.

DAR Museum, 1776 D St. NW; free; 202-879-3241. (Farragut West)

Did You Know?

›› DAR membership isn’t contingent on having an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. Descendents of nurses, ministers and others who helped the cause can also qualify.

›› The first leader of the DAR was first lady Caroline Harrison (wife of Benjamin). She established the White House china collection; before her, presidential services were not considered worth treasuring.

›› When DAR got the 1870 portrait “Mother and Child” (in the Yochim Gallery), it was just of a young woman. A painted-over baby was revealed when the work was cleaned and restored in 2008.

Learn More! Explore D.C., a free iPhone app from The Washington Post, is a guide to the city’s attractions, big and small. Download it today from the App Store.

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Katie Aberbach · September 6, 2012