Museums and the National Spirit: Blue Star Museums

This post is the first in a series in honor of the Blue Star Museums Initiative.

The Phillips Collection, with over 1,500 other institutions across the country, has been participating in the Blue Star Museums program since Memorial Day. The initiative, which encourages military families to spend time together at a museum or other cultural institution by offering free admission, ends Labor Day.

I’m probably not unique in being a museum professional with very little exposure to the military. And when I first heard about Blue Star Museums, I have to admit that the collaboration didn’t make sense to me. What would a joint venture between the military and an art museum look like? I went to the Blue Star Museums blog to learn more.

It was this video that really made an impact on me. Though their voices sound casual, the comments from these military family members describe fundamental experiences that civilian families take for granted: the importance of simply spending time together, making new memories to carry with them while they’re apart, getting to know their home towns in different ways between deployments or new homes while stationed in unfamiliar places. Blue Star Museums is a worthy project and highlights the effect museums, cultural institutions, and art can have on people in times that are challenging.

The power of art and museums on national spirit was not lost on our founder Duncan Phillips. Even some of the artists in our collection, military service members themselves, benefited from his efforts. In upcoming posts this week, I’ll explore the relationship between war and patriotism as seen in our museum’s history and collection.

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