Fueled by Connection

Development Intern Lucy Phillips reflects on her internship over the summer.

The work of The Phillips Collection is fueled by connection.

In my final week as a Development Intern, I met with Anne Taylor-Brittingham, Deputy Director of Education and Responsive Learning Spaces. Anne explained that the intent of her work is to help visitors find a personal connection to the art. I gained tremendous, meaningful experience and insight during my summer at the Phillips, but this particular conversation gave me the clearest perspective on the impact of my work. No matter the project I was assigned—from researching French corporations, to soliciting support for future exhibitions and summarizing for donors the impact of their contributions to the Frank Stewart’s Nexus exhibition—the intent was to connect people to the art and the mission of the Phillips.

In preparing for the final presentation of my internship, I recalled all the ways the idea of personal connection had impacted my work. One project focused on identifying corporate prospects for a French Impressionist exhibition debuting at the Phillips in 2024. My task was to find companies that demonstrated an interest in the arts, French heritage, or a presence in the DMV and, once identified, prepare a solicitation strategy for support of the exhibition. As I look back, it’s clear that the answer was always personal connection. Understanding company history, mission, and culture helped me understand how to connect. For some it was education and for others it was diversity and social progress. Regardless, to forge a connection with The Phillips Collection, I had to start with learning about them.

Visitors enjoying Frank Stewart’s Nexus during Phillips after 5: All that Jazz. Photo: AK Blythe

The importance of personal connection came into even sharper focus throughout a stewardship report project for Frank Stewart’s Nexus: An American Photographer’s Journey, 1960s to the Present. The materials I created provide a comprehensive recap of the exhibition to engage donors, maintain relationships, and express gratitude—and will also be used throughout the department as a template report for future exhibitions. A scan of the public programs associated with the exhibition makes clear that the Phillips emphasized bringing the exhibition to life beyond the walls of the museum. From portfolio reviews with the artist himself, to a Phillips after 5 in partnership with the DC Jazz Festival, these programs were designed draw visitors in and create deeper and more personal connections to the exhibition. Through this project, I was exposed to and inspired by the work of the Education department, the Marketing and Communications team, and countless other colleagues that brought the exhibition to life through interdisciplinary collaboration.

The key takeaway from my summer internship? The work is fueled by connection. It’s not solely about the masterpieces hanging on the walls. It is about everything else—how these works inspire conversation, progress, learning, empathy and, most importantly, how we connect.