Thank You Veterans

ten soldiers beal

Gifford Beal, Ten soldiers, ca. 1910-ca. 1920. Blue-black ink, graphite pencil, and watercolor on wove paper, 5 x 8 3/8 in. (uneven cut). Gift of Gifford Beal Family, courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, 2011.

Today and every day, we value our veterans! We’re proud of our growing list of military initiatives and programs, thanks largely to supporters of our major exhibitions like Lockheed Martin. The Phillips is a Blue Star Museum, welcoming military and their family free of charge between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and our renowned music program wouldn’t look the same without the significant role musicians from the Armed Forces have played over the years (watch for a blog post on this soon). Looking toward our future, this winter the Phillips will begin a pilot program with the Community Living Center at the DC Medical Center which will invite participants to connect with each other through conversations in the Phillips galleries and respond by creating their own artworks. Thank you, veterans!

Blue Star Renoir

Following up to our series honoring the Blue Star Museums initiative, here is a Renoir-inspired submission to Blue Star Museums’s Creativity Contest, which military kids ages 6 to 17 can still enter through September 20. The artist, eight-year-old Marika Skwarek, shares her inspiration below.

Blue Star Renoir by Marika Swarek, Age 8. Part of Blue Star Museums' Creativity Contest

In August, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I enjoyed the impressionist art the best. One of the paintings I really liked was Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand (1875) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I brought my sketch pad along and tried to sketch it. I finished my sketch and added the Blue Star to the necklace. Here it is. I call it the “Blue Star Renoir.” We also visited the Please Touch Museum. We joked that the art museum was the “Please Don’t Touch Museum,” but we had a great time at both.

I am eight years old, just like the girl in the picture.

-Marika Skwarek (age 8), Blue Star Museums participant

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.