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The Phillips Collection Kicks Off a Year of 90th Anniversary Festivities With a Grand Reopening
Howard Hodgkin. As Time Goes By, 2009. Sugar-lift aquatint with carborundum relief and extensive hand-painting on five hand torn panels of 350 gsm Moulin du Gué paper. 96 in x 240 in. Gift of Luther W. Brady in memory of Laughlin Phillips, 2010. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Phillips Collection celebrates its 90th anniversary and launches the countdown to its centennial, beginning with a free weekend on Jan. 15 and 16 and marking the end of the year with an anniversary birthday bash on Nov. 5. Special installations and programs throughout the year debut stunning new acquisitions in contemporary art, engage artists in conversation with the collection, and tell the story of artistic innovation at the heart of the museum since Duncan Phillips opened its doors in 1921.

The Jan. 15−16 free weekend heralds the joyful reopening of the original Phillips house, closed for repair after a fire in early September. The Phillips welcomes visitors back to its intimate galleries where a spectacular new installation of masterworks from the permanent collection is on view, along with a special installation of Sir Howard Hodgkin’s most ambitious work to date, As Time Goes By (2009). Comprising starbursts of vibrant color, the two 20-foot-long, hand-painted etchings were recently acquired for the Phillips’s permanent collection. Turner Prize winner Hodgkin had his first American exhibition at the Phillips in 1984.

Work-of-art birthday cake designs by pastry chefs Rebekka Baltzell (Restaurant Eve), Rick Billings (ThinkFoodGroup), Peter Brett (Blue Duck Tavern), Warren Brown (Cake Love), Heather Chittum (Hook), Susan Gage (Susan Gage Catering), Chris Kujala (RIS), Travis Olson (1789), Melanie Parker (701), and Tom Wellings (Equinox) inspired by artworks in the Phillips will be on display for one weekend only. Visitors vote for their favorite by donating $1 in support of Phillips education programs. The celebration continues in the museum’s café by FoodArts, where visitors 21 and over will enjoy complimentary champagne while supplies last.

Free tours throughout the weekend provide insight into art on view. Fast-paced “relay tours” spotlight 90 works of art in back-to-back talks, ten minutes each—visitors can take in one or all, depending on their art appreciation stamina. For guests seeking a self-guided experience, the Phillips debuts a “things to do in 90 minutes” brochure. In the 90th Anniversary Reading Room, photographs, letters, and other archival materials will show how museum founder Duncan Phillips shaped, in his own words, “an intimate museum combined with an experiment station.” Visitors can also enjoy art-related films and the exhibition Side by Side: Oberlin’s Masterworks at the Phillips on its final weekend.

In 1921, Duncan Phillips opened America’s first museum of modern art in his home, inviting visitors to get comfortable with the often challenging art and artists of his day. Ninety years on, visitors continue to forge personal connections with contemporary art and surprising combinations of modern masterpieces in the Phillips’s intimate galleries.

“From the start, the Phillips has been a place of tremendous risk-taking with an innovative approach to thinking about art and culture,” said Director Dorothy Kosinski. “The 90th anniversary gives us an opportunity to renew and invigorate that spirit of open-minded, interdisciplinary, and collaborative inquiry as we begin to count down to the museum’s 100th birthday.”

The Phillips celebrates many of its astonishing “firsts” in special installations throughout 2011 under the “90 Years of New” moniker. D.C.-based artist Sam Gilliam, who had his first solo show at the Phillips in 1967, creates a new site-specific work for the museum’s signature, elliptical stairway, which he calls “a beautiful, curved frame.” A monumental series of 13 works by Augustus Vincent Tack, which in 1928 was the first abstract commission of the artist, is reinstalled in the wood-paneled Music Room for which it was originally created. The Phillips recreates its Klee Room, which opened in 1948 as the first room dedicated exclusively to Paul Klee’s work by a museum. To culminate the year, Pierre Auguste Renoir’s beloved celebration of light and color, Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880−81), makes a triumphant return to its original location, the first gallery in his home that Duncan Phillips opened to the public in 1921. It will be displayed with other works acquired over the museum’s first decade. Guests will toast these and other Phillips firsts at the Nov. 5 birthday bash.

The Phillips Collection | Washington | 90th Anniversary |

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