Happy 100th Birthday, Phillips Collection!

“Art is part of the social purpose of the world and a gallery can be a meeting place of many minds, harmonized by a genuine respect for the spirit of art, which is none other than the spirit of pleasure in the exchange of different attitudes and sensibilities.”—Duncan Phillips, A Collection Still in the Making, 1931

“This is a time when museums are needed even more, not only because they’re places that broaden the way we understand things and see things but also because in many ways, at their best, they’re part of the glue that holds communities together.”Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, October 14, 2021

Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed November 12, 2021, “The Phillips Collection Day” in honor of our centennial.

When the Phillips Memorial Gallery opened in 1921, it comprised one room and 237 paintings. The Phillips family lived in the building then, welcoming visitors into their home. 100 years later, The Phillips Collection, now with nearly 6,000 works of art and expanded buildings, is still home to more than 120,000 visitors each year. In hearing your favorite stories and memories, I know the Phillips is a special place for so many. While we have greatly extended our outreach globally, there are longtime DC residents who cherish the museum for its uniquely intimate, Washington experience. We hope that more people will be able to have these enriching encounters with art, for many more years to come. From 1921 to 2021, we have championed the power of museums to educate and build communities.

Celebrate with us at our Birthday Party today! Visit PhillipsCollection.org/events to make a reservation.

Despite myriad challenges, we have had a full centennial year so far. We showcased our collection and featured recent acquisitions with Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century. Our juried invitational Inside Outside, Upside Down and Community in Focus project made us smile and cry reflecting on all that we have experienced this past 20 months. We presented works by beloved artists like Jacob Lawrence, and contemporary voices like Marley Dawson, Victor Ekpuk, and Nekisha Durrett. We endowed the position of Horning Chair for Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion, a powerful indication of our commitment to DEAI work. We have presented Duncan Phillips Lectures by Lonnie Bunch and Arlene Dávila (stay tuned for our final lecture from Elizabeth Alexander in January), had conversations with collectors and artists, and showcased the best of traditional and new chamber music. We have engaged with audiences of all ages (from our family workshops to our Creative Aging program with older adults) and continue our work with PK-12 students and teachers throughout the region.

It is especially fitting that our fall exhibitions honor DC icons David Driskell and Alma Thomas, two artists and educators who led the Washington creative space for many decades. They knew how important it is to have art—bright, bold, colorful art—in our world, just as Duncan Phillips did. I am humbled to shepherd this wonderful institution, and very proud of all that has been achieved over 100 years, creating a dynamic institution dedicated to Duncan Phillips’s vision to help the world “see differently” as artists see.

Thank you for celebrating “The Phillips Collection Day” with us!

Dorothy Kosinski

The Legacy of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay

Wilhelmina Holladay in the Great Hall of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. (Photo: Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post, via Getty Images)

I was saddened to learn of Mrs. Holladay’s passing last week. Wilhelmina Cole Holladay (1922-2021) founded the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 1981, an important institution that is a critical part of the Washington, DC, museum community. As the director of a museum that started as a private collection rooted in an individual’s vision, I cannot help but reflect on certain parallels. Duncan and Marjorie Phillips were supporters of contemporary artists, especially American artists, and with a determination to amass America’s first museum of modern art, shaped by their own unique taste and predilections. Mrs. Holladay was frustrated by the dearth of attention to women artists and was determined to focus her collection on their art, and to build a museum to give them center stage. Both collectors and museum founders required vision, focus, and determination, as well as a profound belief in the importance of art in our society. Mrs. Holladay’s project resonates more and more strongly today as a prescient view of how astonishingly neglected the artistic production of women was, and the continued struggle for equality today. I had the honor of meeting Mrs. Holladay several times and was always impressed by her seriousness and old-world dignity. We have deep respect for the impact she had in her life, and hope that The Phillips Collection can help continue her legacy by championing women artists in our galleries and beyond.

Celebrating 100 Years of Connection, Conversation, and Art

America’s First Museum of Modern Art at 100

Dear Friends,

A 100th anniversary is surely a time for joy and celebration, and we look forward to marking this major milestone with exceptional exhibitions and meaningful programs in collaboration with our community.

However, at this particular moment in our nation and in our city, we are keenly aware of our museum as part of a vital network of educational institutions that underpin our democracy. Our mission is to use the power of art to spark connection, build empathy, and catalyze ideas. While we are not politically aligned, we are by no means neutral. We have a responsibility to meet this moment, and to play our role in nourishing conversations around urgent topics and encouraging constructive debate.

Our mission is tied to a commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. The dynamism and impact of our next chapter will depend on our capacity to champion women, artists of color, and marginalized voices, to open up the canon of modern and contemporary art and history to artistic expression that reflects our complex world. We are here to serve, engage with, and learn from our community.

This is a moment for reflection, critical examination, and charting new direction. Duncan Phillips founded the museum with tender and lofty ideals: as a place of solace and healing, and as an “experiment station.” How can we live up to those ideas and be truly inclusive and welcoming? How can we remain dynamic and relevant to the art and ideas of our times?

We embrace this challenge as we mark this momentous anniversary, and look forward to welcoming you all to join in the conversations and the celebrations.

Dorothy Kosinski, Vradenburg Director & CEO