Washington Travel Blog› entry 4 of 27 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.