See D.C. Danish-Style

Above: Copenhagen’s Nyhavn, thriving cyclist community, and fresh food markets. Below: D.C.’s got it all! Especially in the Phillips’s Dupont Circle neighborhood where FRESHFARM Market, green space, and cycling are big.

Ever since you heard about cycling superhighways, food foragers, and the new Nordic cuisine, you’ve been scheming a move to Copenhagen, but don’t give up on D.C. just yet. In honor of Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture, we invite you to embrace the Danish lifestyle right here in D.C. Check out this map complete with bike routes, and download the itinerary to carry along.

  • Start with a pilgrimage to Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture, and discover the acclaimed artist’s sensuous paintings and striking bronzes. Tweet a photo of your bike in front of @PhillipsMuseum for $2-off admission, or show your Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) membership card for 2-for-1 tickets. Enter to win a trip to Copenhagen in the lobby (courtesy of VisitDenmark, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and the Arp-Hansen Hotel Group), and step into the museum shop to admire Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s iconic tea service and a beautiful handcrafted bamboo bicycle by ThreePenny Bikes, WABA’s 2012 “BikeBuilder of the Year.” Pick up a Washington, D.C., bicycle map in the admissions lobby to chart safe routes as you see the city Danish-style.
  • Tune-up at neighborhood shop The Bike Rack before you set out about town.
  • No bike of your own? No problem. It’s especially Danish to borrow one (Copenhagen launched the world’s first large-scale urban bike-sharing scheme in 1995). Visit one of 190 Capital Bikeshare stations in D.C., Arlington, and Alexandria, and park at one of two Dupont Circle area docking stations while you’re at the Phillips.
  • See D.C.’s downtown museums and sites with help from Bike and Roll, a bicycle tour and rental company. Mention PHILLIPS when booking through Dec. 9, 2012, for 50%-off your rental. UPDATE: booking deadline has been corrected. Bike and Roll closes for the winter Dec. 10, 2012, and reopens March 10, 2013.
  • Visit FRESHFARM Market in Dupont Circle on Sunday mornings, and pick up fresh and local treats to inspire your own take on new and traditional Nordic cuisine like smørrebrød, the famous open-faced sandwich on dark rye. Save the date for December 2 when your Kirkeby exhibition ticket stub is good for a $5 market coupon.
  • Ride through Montrose Park and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens to the Embassy of Denmark for an awe-inspiring look at D.C.’s first modern embassy designed by acclaimed Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen.
  • Furniture from Scandinavia by Annette Rachlin is D.C.’s destination for classic Danish furniture, a modernist oasis in the heart of old Georgetown. Take a seat in Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair or snuggle up in Finn Juhl’s Pelican. Browse through literature on the best of Danish modernism, while you take a midday break on a Kjaerholm daybed or Hans J. Wegner’s “The Chair” made famous by JFK.
  • Folger Shakespeare Library‘s current exhibition of photographs by Rosamond Purcell, Very Like a Whale (through Jan. 6, 2013), draws its name from Shakespeare’s Danish tragedy. Find three images that respond to Hamlet, then visit the Elizabethan Garden to discover how sculptor Greg Wyatt imagined the play. As you exit, look up at the building’s façade and John Gregory’s 1932 Hamlet bas relief.
  • Round out your day with Scandinavian comfort food (and refreshing aquavit) at Petworth’s Domku Bar and Café.
  • Coming in February, Nordic Cool 2013 at the Kennedy Center is an international festival of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, and film that highlights the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the territories of Greenland and the Faroe and Åland Islands. Tickets go on sale October 24, 2012. Preview what’s in store at Phillips after 5: Arctic Expedition on January 3, 2013.

View See D.C. Danish Style! in a larger map

Bodies in Space

When Antony Gormley: Drawing Space opens at the Phillips on June 2, it joins an international roster of current shows of the artist’s work. A couple weeks ago, Vessel opened at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, Italy. Just days before, Horizon Field Hamburg had opened at Deichtorhallen Hamburg. Antony Gormley said that Horizon Field was developed “always with the idea that we wanted to make an instrument that would allow people a way to experience themselves, their bodies in space, as well as the architecture, in a new way.” This statement resonates with much of his work, including the drawings we’ll show at the Phillips this summer. Hear more about his thought process in this brief video:

So what is Horizon Field? And what does it look like? Deichtorhallen has shared a video and slideshow documenting this massive project’s construction. But it’s the experience that counts, so we’re excited that visitors have posted photos and videos of the space, and their responses to it, on the project blog and will continue to do so (we hope!) until the installation closes September 9.

Everyone dreams of home improvement

Duncan Phillips. Sketch for museum building, from Journal B, c. 1923. From The Phillips Collection Archives.

In The New York Times Sunday, March 27, Nicholai Ouroussoff  wrote, “Over the past 15 or so years, some of the most original and idiosyncratic art institutions in the country [...] have embarked on major expansions to modernize [...], significantly transforming their identities.” The three museums he examines were all, like the Phillips, created by an individual collector with a distinct vision. Ouroussoff goes on to say that many of these building projects will result in a loss of character and create a regrettable sense of the “corporate.” It is hard to think of a museum that hasn’t undertaken a major building project, or at least considered it, The Phillips Collection included.

In 1923, Duncan Phillips made a sketch of his ideal museum building in which to house his growing collection and welcome visitors. Having opened his red brick and brownstone home as a gallery, even as his family still lived there, his drawing reflects a grand plan, a structure much more like the classical-style exhibition spaces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Phillips’s dream museum would include a garden with arched cloister, a theater, a terrace over looking the city, and a majestic corridor to feature the monumental works of Augustus Vincent Tack. The site he selected was a short walk up Connecticut Avenue from his 21st Street house (space currently occupied by the Washington Hilton.) But after reflecting on his goals for the Phillips Memorial Gallery, as it was then called, he decided that the domestic setting was essential for encouraging contemplation, slow looking, and dialogs between seemingly disparate works. (Financial climates also played a part in his decision.)

Our museum has expanded in many ways, both during Phillips’s lifetime and since. With the relocation of the Barnes Foundation, an institution thought to be intrinsically bound to not only its location but its original installation, I think it has been shown that expanding and building are simply facts of life for museums.