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The Phillips Collection to Celebrate 90th Anniversary

In 2011, The Phillips Collection celebrates its 90th anniversary and launches the countdown to its centennial. A host of exhibitions, programs, and events throughout the year debut stunning new acquisitions in contemporary art, engage artists in conversation with the collection, and tell the story of artistic innovation that has been the heart of the museum since Duncan Phillips opened its doors in 1921.

The Phillips kicks off the anniversary with a free weekend on January 15–16 and brings it to a close with a birthday bash at year’s end. Visitors can expect an array of new interactive tools, from a fully loaded mobile application to a “things to do in 90 minutes at the Phillips” guide. A 90th anniversary reading room will reveal in photographs, letters, and other archival materials how museum founder Duncan Phillips shaped, in his own words, “an intimate museum combined with an experiment station.” In-gallery interpretation will highlight the Phillips’s pivotal role in supporting emerging artists, for example when it became the first museum to buy a work by Georgia O’Keeffe or exhibit work by Marc Chagall in the U.S.

“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,” to be featured in special installations throughout 2011 under the “90 Years of New” moniker. Turner Prize winner Sir Howard Hodgkin, who had his first American exhibition at the Phillips in 1984, will be represented by his most ambitious work to date—As Time Goes By (2009)—a pair of 20 foot long, hand-painted etchings recently acquired for the Phillips’s permanent collection. The Phillips will recreate its 1938 “Klee Room,” the first room dedicated exclusively to Paul Klee’s work by a museum, and reinstall in the wood-paneled Music Room a courageous, monumental series by Augustus Vincent Tack, which in 1928 was the first abstract commission of the artist. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s beloved celebration of light and color, Luncheon of the Boating Party, will make a triumphant return to its original location in the first gallery Duncan Phillips opened to the public in his home in 1921. In a special commission for the 90th anniversary, D.C.-based artist Sam Gilliam, who had his first solo show at the Phillips in 1967, will suspend a jubilant draped canvas from the museum’s signature, elliptical stairway.

90 Years of New: Anniversary Reading Room Jan. 8–Dec. 31, 2011 90 Years of New: Howard Hodgkin’s As Time Goes By Jan. 8–May 8, 2011 90 Years of New: Sam Gilliam Jan. 29–April 24, 2011 90 Years of New: Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party May 28–Dec. 31, 2011
and European Masterworks
90 Years of New: Gifts from the Heather and Tony June 16–Oct. 2, 2011
Podesta Collection
90 Years of New: Augustus Tack in the Music Room June 30–Dec. 31, 2011 90 Years of New: Morris Louis July 14–Oct. 9, 2011 90 Years of New: The Klee Room Sept. 29–Dec. 31, 2011 90 Years of New: Joseph Marioni Oct. 20, 2011–Jan. 29, 2012

The Phillips’s Center for the Study of Modern Art will serve as the hub for many of the museum’s 90th anniversary activities. Milestones will include the announcement of dynamic new partnerships in higher education, a major symposium, and the launch of Artists’ Voices D.C., a new series focused on Washington’s vibrant creative community to compliment the museum’s ongoing internationally focused Conversations with Artists series.

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