Hanging Man Ray’s Obstruction

Installing Obstruction_TW

Preparators install Man Ray’s Obstruction (1920/editioned replica 1964). Photos: Trish Waters

Installing Man Ray’s Obstruction, a carefully balanced mobile comprising over 60 wooden coat hangers, was no small feat for Phillips preparators. Check out these before and after shots.

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Installation view: Man Ray, Obstruction, 1920/editioned replica 1964. Assisted readymade: 63 wooden coat hangers, 43 5/16 x 47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Gift of Beatrice (Buddy) Mayer, Chicago, to American Friends of the Israel Museum, B84.0027. © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015. Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Avshalom Avital.

Painting, Sculpture, and…Boilers?

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The Phillips’s unlikely heroes: our environment stabilizing boilers. Photos courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Beyond the galleries, there are hidden heroes lurking in the outskirts of the Phillips’s building. While perhaps not as beautiful, our behind-the-scenes boilers are just as critical to the Phillips as our works of art. A proud Chief of Security and Operations Dan Datlow describes the role these unlikely champions play during the hottest summers and chilliest winters:

“This is the time of the year when our HVAC equipment is working hard to cool and dehumidify all of our indoor spaces. We are taking large amounts of moisture out of the air to maintain stable environmental conditions in the galleries. This is the opposite of what we do in the wintertime, when the outside air is dry and we have to add large amounts of moisture to the air to maintain our environment.

In the images above, the heavy end plates have been removed to expose the heating tubes where steam is produced. We brush the tubes out annually and then the boiler inspector visits to certify them for license renewal.

I’ve worked with many, many boilers in my career and I’m happy to say these are the cleanest tubes and tube sheets I’ve ever seen. Usually, there is a some level of hard scale in the boilers that is the result of dissolved water solids (minerals) that coat the boiler interior. Our boilers are presently in exactly the same scale-free condition they were on the day we installed them.”

Tweeting Behind the Scenes of Made in the USA

To celebrate the opening of Made in the USA, we held a series of tweetups in the weeks leading up to the exhibition. Participants used #MyAmericanArt to share photos of their behind-the-scenes preview with friends. We started with a tour from exhibition curator Susan Behrends Frank:

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TWEETS (Clockwise from top left): “‘Everything is pushed to the corners.’ #myamericanart,” @sam_theriault; “Can a work of art be too realistic? People thought this one was at the time it was done. #MyAmericanArt,” @sbanks20; “Rockwell Kent went into nature to capture grittiness and drama: witness ‘The Road Roller.’ #myamericanart,” @museums365; “Great seeing 200+ old faves back from tour & home @PhillipsMuseum ‘Made in the USA,’” @efstewart; “Moving on to the Degrees of Abstraction room with Avery painting #myamericanart,” @jackievicino

Moved to the conservation lab to hear insights from Associate Conservator Patti Favero:

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TWEETS (Clockwise from top left): “In the conservation room @PhillipsMuseum! #MyAmericanArt,” @swahilary; “I would die for these @KremerPigments in the @PhillipsMuseum conservation studio. #MyAmericanArt,” @studio9201; “Our tweeters get a chance to look at a #Gauguin through the microscope #myamericanart,” @phillipsmuseum; “Restoration and conservation tools. #myamericanart #phillipscollection #art #dc,” @sam_theriault

Then pieced together our own masterpieces based on works from the exhibition:

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TWEETS (Clockwise from top left): “Now we’re making our own art! (With snacks) #myamericanart,” @philipsmuseum; “Before and after shot of collaborative art project at @PhillipsMuseum #myamericanart tweetup! You were a great host!” @danamuses; “Stefan Hirsch’s New York, Lower Manhattan, as interpreted by today’s #MyAmericanArt tweetup.” @Phillipsmuseum; “Before and after! #picstitch #myamericanart,” @VanitaKataria

See the rest of what our tweetup participants had to say on the Phillips’s Storify account, and join the conversation with #MyAmericanArt!