Volunteer Spotlight: Anna Palmisano

In this series, Education Specialist Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. Phillips volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concerts, assisting patrons in the library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Anna Palmisano, Art Information and Library Volunteer

Anna Palmisano

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

AP: I started volunteering in 2013 during the Van Gogh Repetitions exhibit.

What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?

AP: I want to help visitors have the best possible experience at The Phillips Collection. I especially enjoy helping visitors find a favorite painting or works by a favorite artist. I love when visitors stop to see me after touring the museum to tell me about their experience.

What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

AP: I lead Marylanders for Patient Rights—a non-profit group dedicated to promoting legislation to protect the rights of hospital patients, who are among our most vulnerable consumers. I work with a wide range of advocacy groups and state legislators to promote patient rights.

What is your favorite room or painting here?

AP: I have so many favorite paintings! My favorite artists are Paul Klee, for his whimsical paintings that evoke childhood, and Pierre Bonnard for his use of colors in creating an ethereal and dreamlike atmosphere.

If you had one word to describe the Phillips, what would it be?

AP: Inspiring

Share a fun fact about you!

AP: I am a scientist by training—a microbial ecologist. My doctoral research took me to the continent of Antarctica on seven expeditions to study how microorganisms adapt to extreme environments.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

AP: I have been coming to the Phillips since I was six years old. I was fortunate that my parents and my aunt, the sculptor Marie Lesher, introduced me to the Phillips, and it remains my favorite museum. When I retired, The Phillips Collection was an obvious choice for volunteering.  I enjoy the art and wonderful people who work here!

A Modern Vision at the Kimbell

Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski admires the newly installed A Modern Vision. From left to right: George Rouault’s Verlaine (1939), Alberto Giacometti’s Monumental Head (1960), Georges Braque’s The Round Table (1929), and Nicolas de Staël’s Le Parc de Sceaux (1952). Photo: Susan Behrends Frank

My first two weeks of May were spent with the terrific staff at Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Together, we condition checked and installed the travelling exhibition A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection. Highlighting Duncan Phillips’s collecting approach, the exhibition presents a stunning array of iconic European paintings and sculptures. It features the artists Phillips revered who achieved the mastery of color, the power of great emotion, and the balance of representation and abstraction. Works by Jean-Siméon-Baptiste Chardin, Gustave Courbet, Eugene Delacroix, and Édouard Manet are placed in dialogue with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces by Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet. The great masters of the 20th century including Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso are shown with units of work by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, Honoré Daumier, and Paul Klee. On May 11, Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski and curator Susan Behrends Frank joined me at the exhibition opening; on May 13, Frank gave a lecture on the exhibition to 400 visitors. See this exhibition in the Kimbell’s Renzo Piano Pavilion through August 13.

Renée Maurer, Associate Curator

Oskar Kokoschka’s Portrait of Lotte Franzos (1909) next to a maquette before the placement of the sculpture Head of a Woman (1950) by Pablo Picasso. Photo: Renée Maurer

Installation of Ingres’s The Seated Bather (1826) beside Corot’s View from the Farnese Gardens, Rome (1826) and Genzano (1843). Photo: Renée Maurer

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

 

A Soundtrack for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

Gallery Educator Donna Jonte leads a school tour with Pierre-August Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of my favorite things about working at the Phillips is catching a group of young kids on a school tour. Just the other day, as I was taking notes in the galleries, a small stampede of children all donning the same bright yellow t-shirt came in and sat down in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As they discussed this work, I was taken to places I had never been with it before. First they spent some time talking about the subjects of the work. The children noticed the people, the setting, and different elements such as what food was on the table. But then they went “inside” the painting. Each child demonstrated what sounds they thought they would hear if they were actually in the painting. One said a bee buzzing; another mentioned the dog and how it might be barking, while the woman holding it made “kissy” noises. Others suggested whooshing of the wind, rustling leaves, and the trickling of the water far in the distance. Then, when directed, they all together made these sounds, creating a soundtrack for the work.

Before this encounter, I looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party in a totally different way. I spent time noticing the artist’s talent in making the glass and liquid in the foreground shimmer. I noticed the composition, or the painterly style so common with the impressionists of this time. These kids (and Gallery Educator Donna Jonte, who led the exercise) helped me take a step back and stop obsessing over the pictorial. They helped me to appreciate this work for what it is: a captured moment in time.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern