Phillips Collection

Washington Travel Blog

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waiting for the Metro

Nearly 90 years old, the Phillips Collection grew out the private collection of Duncan Phillips.  Originally 1 room and fewer than 250 paintings, the art now numbers over 3000 works and spreads over two buildings (connected by a short galley).

I picked the perfect day to visit the Phillips Collection.  The museum is partnering with the Jazz Festival currently taking place in DC so there were jazz concerts throughout the day.  Additionally, while there is usually a charge on Saturdays, since this was a special event day, the fee was waived.  I also had the opportunity to discover the museum with a set of cards that invited the viewer to interact with piece.  At the end of my visit when I went to return the cards and the evaluation sheet, I not only got to keep the cards but I also received a bag with a mug, a book, and twist-up crayons.

The Sun and the Moon
  Out on the terrace, they were holding a sale so I was able to pick up two posters for only $1 apiece.

While I spent most of the time exploring the museum on my own, I did join a gallery tour at 1:00 for a half hour.  Honestly, the tour wasn't much.  We only really looked at two pieces.  However, the background information did help build a better perspective of the artwork.

My journey began in the Sant Building where I first viewed The Sun and the Moon by Elizabeth Murray, a modern American artist.  The card in my discovery pack explained that Murray has called her work "bloopy," "inflated," and "wacky."  There is a very cartoonish element to her pieces, probably stemming from a childhood desire to work for Walt Disney.

Dune, White Sands, New Mexico
  Later I would learn that she created this particular piece while undergoing treatment for brain cancer, the illness that would later claim her life.

Up a level I basked in the black and white nature photographs on display.  While most photographers were unfamiliar to me, I did recognize Ansel Adams' name on a few.  I then slipped into the Rothko room where four large paintings rested, one on each wall.  To gain a true feel for the power of the works, only eight visitors were allowed into the room at a time.  (The original display had only three paintings.)

I then headed down to the lower basement and the auditorium.  Here students from a DC middle school played jazz music.  I was very impressed by their skills.

Luncheon after the boating party
  Some of the pieces were standby favorites such as When the Saints Come Marching In and Summertime while others I can only guess at the spelling (Niobi??).

Back upstairs I wandered through more pieces, arranged together to create an overall effect for a room rather than simply to be considered alone.  I enjoyed finding a few works by Cezanne, definitely one of my favorite Impressionists.  The Spanish teacher in me snapped photos of each Picasso painting I encountered (and the one Miro I saw).  Other famous names included Van Gogh, Manet, Polluck, and Renoir, the last being the creator of Luncheon of the Boating Party, arguably the most important work in the early days of the collection.

Journeying over into the original house portion of the museum, I was awed by the deep wood of the music room.

a Degas
  The atmosphere of the house formed a harminous complement to famous works by El Greco, Whistler, and O'Keefe.  No more was this more evident than in the placement of a Degas ballet painting over an elegant fireplace.  Each room of the home presented more surprises tucked around corners, across from elevators, up steps.  The tasteful arrangement of each work allowed the viewer to experience the piece and truly appreciate the collection started over a century ago by a man with an eye for daring beauty.

flammick says:
Someone was telling me about this collection. Now that I've seen your blog I'm, definitely going to check it out!
Posted on: Jun 09, 2009
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waiting for the Metro
waiting for the Metro
The Sun and the Moon
The Sun and the Moon
Dune, White Sands, New Mexico
Dune, White Sands, New Mexico
Luncheon after the boating party
Luncheon after the boating party
a Degas
a Degas
Ultramarine Diamond
Ultramarine Diamond
inside the Rothko Room
inside the Rothko Room
Bullfight (Picasso)
Bullfight (Picasso)
The Palm
The Palm
inside the house part of the museu…
inside the house part of the muse…
table
table
table close up
table close up
stair detail
stair detail
Mountain Lake-Autumn
Mountain Lake-Autumn
fireplace tile
fireplace tile
another fireplace
another fireplace
terrace sculpture
terrace sculpture
the house from outside
the house from outside
monument in Washington Circle near…
monument in Washington Circle nea…