The Phillips Collection

Hailed as America’s first museum of modern art, The Phillips Collection boasts a superb collection of modern and contemporary art in an intimate setting. Located in Washington, D.C.’s vibrant Dupont Circle neighborhood in a distinctive building, The Phillips Collection was opened to the public in 1921 and features immaculate impressionist and modern works by world-renowned artists such as Renoir and Rothko, Van Gogh and Diebenkorn, Bonnard and O'Keeffe. The mission of The Phillips Collection is to provide a dynamic environment for collaboration, creativity, and innovation. The Phillips Collection

»The Building

The Building

Founded by Duncan and Marjorie Acker Phillips as the Phillips Memorial Gallery, The Phillips Collection is housed in what was once the Phillips’ family home, who had to move once the small family collection of paintings grew dramatically to more than 600 works. The original building, an 1897 Georgian Revival house, has been extended to accommodate the growing collection and forms the southern section of the museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A modernist wing was added to the building in 1960 with the aid of Japanese businessman Yasuhiro Goh and is now known as the Goh Annex in his honor. A significant expansion and renovation were completed in 2006 with an extra 30,000 square feet being added to the building, which is now known as the Sant Building. Designed by Arthur Cotton Moore, essential elements include an exquisite sculptural stone relief of birds on the outside of the building that relates to Georges Braque’s painting titled Bird in the museum's collection, and a winding white staircase inside. The Sant Building incorporates newly expanded galleries that showcase large-scale post-1950s works, a modern auditorium that seats up to 180 guests for films, lectures, symposia, and other events, an outdoor courtyard; and a café and gift shop.

The newly renovated building also houses The Phillips Collection Center for the Study of Modern Art, a two-story structure that was once the carriage house and now offers a center for education for scholars and students from various academic fields. The Phillips Collection Center for the Study of Modern Art provides a range of educational programs, including classes on modern and contemporary art, lectures, seminars, and symposia on art and artists, as well as a gathering place. Photo: The Phillips Collection

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»The Collection

The Collection

The Phillips Collection features a permanent collection of over 3,000 works by European and American and impressionist and modern artists, including works by artists Edgar Degas, Georges Braque, Paul Cezanne, Honoré Daumier, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Pierre Bonnard. The Museum also features the Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s world-renowned impressionist painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1881).

Arranged in non-chronological and non-traditional installations that reflect the relationships between various artistic expressions and visual connections between past and present, the collection gives similar focus to American and European artists. It does this by juxtaposing works by Pierre Bonnard, Éduouard Vuillard and Peter Ilsted with Maurice Prendergast, Winslow Homer, and Albert Pinkham Ryder.

The Phillips Collection is also known for displaying groups of works by artists that Duncan Phillips favored at the time, for example, 17 paintings by Bonnard, 13 paintings by Cubist pioneer Braque, and an equal number of works by Mark Rothko and Klee, including Picture Album (1937). The Museum features The Rothko Room, a small, intimate space designed by Phillips to display Rothko’s large, luminous paintings by saturating the room with color and sensation. The museum also served as a visual haven for artists such Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, and Richard Diebenkorn. Photo: The Phillips Collection

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The Phillips Collection offers an active schedule of educational programs, parent/child workshops, lectures, classes, gallery talks, and teacher training programs, as well as community outreach programs and initiatives such as Art Links to Literacy. The museum also produces an award-winning program of educational outreach initiatives that serves thousands of students and teachers each year.

Programs include ‘Phillips After 5,’ which is a lively evening of gallery talks, live jazz, modern art, and drinks on the first Thursday of every month, and Sunday Concerts showcasing classical chamber music in the museum's intimate Music Room from October through May. Photo: The Phillips Collection

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»Visitor Information

Visitor Information

The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st St NW in Washington, D.C. Visitors can enjoy one hour docent-led guided group tours of the permanent collection and special exhibitions that provide insight into the history and visual arts of the collection.

Back to: Best Things to Do in Washington, D.C. Address: 1600 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20009, Phone: 202-387-2151 Photo: The Phillips Collection

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Things to Do in DC: The Phillips Collection