Overflow coat check at admissions, December 30, 2013. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender
Starting with the government shutdown in October and the opening of Van Gogh Repetitions, we knew we were in for a busy season here. But it was one heck of a December for the Phillips as we welcomed 24,558 visitors (well above our budget attendance of 19,800.) The shop likely had its highest sales month ever, 21% over last December during our Degas exhibition. And the café was so popular, they had to fashion a sign announcing when capacity was reached. (And it has spent a lot of time on display.)
To all of our visitors and members (new and old), thank you for making this such a successful month. And to our colleagues on the front lines selling tickets and signing up members, checking coats, staffing and stocking the shop, making lattes and ladling soups in the café, and, most of all, keeping the artworks secure, THANK YOU!
This week brought crowds to the galleries, even without a special exhibition. Photos: Sue Nichols
While the National Mall may have had tumbling tumbleweeds this week due to the shutdown of many of our city’s biggest museums, loads of tourists have been using their SmarTrip cards to take the red line out to Dupont Circle and visit the Phillips. Even though we are between special exhibitions, we have still seen crowds at 3 1/2 times our usual numbers. A typical Thursday in early October with no special exhibition would host 155 visitors. Yesterday, we had 626, and that doesn’t even include the 700+ for Phillips After 5.
Not only have we welcomed many new visitors, we’ve experienced the shutdown in other ways. Delivery schedules for works of art have been changed to accommodate shuttered institutions and furloughed art handlers. Fellow cultural institutions scrambling for venues to host long-planned events have approached us for help. While we hope that the government resolves this round of conflict soon, we have enjoyed welcoming all who have streamed through our doors this week.
As the world celebrates the most highly anticipated union of the year – this morning’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton – it might be interesting to look back in history to an earlier time: the summer of 1970. Richard M. Nixon was in the White House, temperatures had reached the sultry nineties, miniskirts were popular, and a youthful Prince Charles and his sister, Princess Anne, arrived in Washington, D.C.
Princess Anne and Prince Charles take in Renoir's The Judgement of Paris. On the far left in yellow is Julie Eisenhower. Far right is Marjorie Phillips, then director of the museum.
It was their first trip to the United States, a whirlwind three-day visit for Britain’s royal pair that began on July 16, with America’s first family welcoming them on the South Lawn of the White House. Prince Charles, a tall, 21-year old heir to the British throne, proclaimed to his greeters that he and his sister, 19-year old Princess Anne, had always longed to come to America. Continue reading