The Phillips: D.C.’s own MOMA

Craig Meklir Uncategorized

The Phillips Collection House. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Robert Lautman

The Phillips Collection House. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Robert Lautman

The Phillips Collection calls itself America’s first modern art museum. Opened in 1921, a full eight years before its behemoth counterpart in midtown Manhattan, this Dupont Circle museum started life in the home of its founder, Duncan Phillips.

Over time, the burgeoning collection outgrew its space in the house on 21st Street. A modernist wing was added in 1960, and the museum further expanded in 1989. But even this wasn’t enough. In 2006, the Phillips opened its new 30,000-foot underground area with galleries, an auditorium, library, courtyard, studio and shop and café.

The Phillips’ permanent collection of more than 4,000 works of art includes many masterpieces, such as Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, along with paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko, and more.

The Phillips CollectionRothko Room. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Robert Lautman

The Phillips Collection Rothko Room. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Robert Lautman

On temporary exhibit at the Phillips until Jan. 8 is Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, which depicts the movement of more than 1 million African-Americans from the southern to the northern United States during the time of the first and second world wars.

Also on temporary exhibit through Jan. 8 are Whitfield Lovell’s The Kin Series and Related Works, which depicts incredibly detailed African-American faces of the past juxtaposed with worn, everyday objects; One-on-One, a series in which contemporary artist Enrique Martínez Celaya juxtaposes some of his works on “the complexities and mysteries of individual experience” with works of American Romantic painter Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847–1917); and Intersections: Arlene Shechet, through May 7, which displays the artist’s sculptures in ceramic, porcelain and paper.

Plan to visit this little gem soon and often for rare glimpses of powerful works of art from around the world brought practically to your doorstep!

The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW, Washington, 202-387-2151; Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, noon-7 p.m., closed Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, open first Thursday of every month, 5-8:30 p.m., for special events (tickets required); Admission: adults $12, students and visitors 62 and over $10, 18 and under and members free.