The Phillips Collection

Front facade of the Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection,  Photo by Lee Malone

The Phillips Collection is proud to call itself America’s first museum of modern art. Founded by Duncan Phillips and his mother, the museum first opened in 1921. The museum memorialized Duncan’s grief at the death of his father and brother. Duncan said he, “Turned to [his] love of painting for the will to live.”

Their permanent collection houses more than 4,000 works, including from impressionism, modernism, and contemporary art. Artworks in the collection are by Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, and others. Part of the permanent collection is always on display, and available for free to visitors from Tuesday to Friday.¬†Additionally, the museum houses temporary exhibits ($12 admission for adults). Currently on display is Soy Isla (I am an Island) by Cuban artist Zilia Sanchez. Another exhibit, Women of Influence (Part II), details the contributions by women to the running of the Phillips Collection.

Rather than focus on an overarching theme, the Phillips Collection focuses on creating a dialogue with art. The museum is “dedicated to the idea of modernism as a dialogue between the past and the present, without restrictions on geography, nationality, or time period.” Outside of its exhibits, the museum continues this focus through educational events and programs. There are K-12 education programs to help teachers immerse students. Older art enthusiasts can benefit from the museum’s conversations and lectures series, Creative Voices DC Panels, and reference materials. The Phillips Collection also hosts music-oriented events, such as a Sunday Concert series.

The Phillips Collection is a wonderful Washington DC attraction. Permanent collections are free to visit Tuesday through Friday, while temporary exhibits have a $12 admission for adults. Tickets to lectures and concerts are available on The Phillips Collection website. Book lodging near Dupont Circle to visit the Phillips Collection.