In this series, Education Department Coordinator Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. The Phillips Collection volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concert, 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.
Michael D. Farley, Art Information Volunteer Mentor/Phillips after 5 Volunteer
Michael D. Farley
What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
Supporting the Phillips, working with staff & guests, learning about the collection.
What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
Chief Development Officer-American Society of International Law
What is your favorite room or painting here?
Jacob Lawrence & Rothko room
If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?
Share a fun fact about you!
My first nonprofit job was as a Development Director of the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR, in 1986, and there I created the popular “Museum After Hours” program still going strong today, very similar to Phillips after 5.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Enjoy Thursday evening volunteering and working the Will Call desk
Brian popped the question to Catherine in the Phillips’s Rothko Room…and she said “Yes!”
Congratulations to Brian and Catherine, who got engaged in the Phillips’s Rothko Room earlier this month! We asked the couple to share their story and why the Rothko Room holds special meaning for them:
“When I started thinking about proposing to Catherine, I knew that I wanted to incorporate art into the proposal. Catherine moved to DC to study art history and to have the opportunity to intern in the district’s numerous art collections and museums. While in graduate school and while we were dating, one of these internships was with The Phillips Collection. During this time, it became apparent how much the collection meant to her, specifically the Rothko Room. She had prints of the four pieces that hang in the Rothko Room on the walls of her apartment and, as a result, they were witness to a large portion of our relationship. With this in mind, I thought it would be special to share our big moment in front of the real paintings, in a collection that she loves.
The passion that Catherine puts into her everyday life is one of the many things that first attracted me to her. One of her avenues to express this passion is through her love for and pursuit of art history. With this in mind, the Rothko Room at the Phillips seemed like the perfect place to solidify the passion in our relationship and begin our life together.” —Brian Rasmussen
Brian invited family to celebrate the new engagement
“I was completely shocked when I walked into the Rothko Room and saw Brian standing in the corner. This room has always been my favorite spot in DC and I can’t think of a more perfect place to share such a special moment. After a lot of tears and pictures, the surprises continued down in the café where our families and friends from out of town were waiting with champagne and donuts (my favorite!). Brian truly planned the perfect proposal and I can’t wait to visit the Rothko Room for the years to come with my soon to be husband!” —Catherine West
Do you have a Phillips love story? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to these lovebirds!
In this series, Assistant to the Education Department Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through October 4, 2015.
Cousins, August 2015, photograph
What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
I’m a Museum Assistant and also work in the AV department. I enjoy the inside track as far as hearing a lot of the artist talks and guest speakers. We meet artists, tourists, and other museum staff from around the world on a regular basis.
Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?
The Rothko Room
What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2015 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?
This is a photo of a photo taken by the Scurlock Studio. The photo is a group shoot that’s displayed in the window of Lee’s Flower Shop at 1026 U Street, NW. I find Whitfield Lovell an influence on this work. This is a picture of my cousin Caroline at a formal. She died of cancer over a decade ago. Her son died of COPD last year. He died in the family home which probably will be up for sale soon. They had the home for about 3 generations. In the face of increasing gentrification, it’s good to preserve the past when you can.
Anything else you would like to share?
The relationship between music and visual art has always been of interest. I might hear some music which makes me wonder what kind of visual image would go with it. This can also work in reverse.
The 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view September 2 through October 4, 2015. The show features artwork from The Phillips Collection staff.