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!

Behind the Scenes of the 2013 Staff Show

In addition to the Van Gogh Repetitions exhibition, Phillips preparators have been busy this month installing for the annual Staff Show.

Phillips preparators install works of art for the staff show and adjust lighting.

(Left) A Phillips preparator measures and hangs artwork. (Right) Lights are adjusted to highlight a piece.

The 2013 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show will be on view September 23, 2013 through October 20, 2013. The show features artwork from Phillips Collection staff. Please join us for the opening reception on October 10, 2013 from 5-8pm.

Emily Bray, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator

A Phillips preparator installs the title wall of the staff show.

Vinyl is installed as the finishing touch.