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Washington, D.C.: Phillips Collection turns 90 with a year of special events

January 13, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • "As Time Goes By" by Howard Hodgkin is a new addition to the Phillips Collection. The 20-foot-long artwork is actually two etchings painted and printed in different colors.
"As Time Goes By" by Howard Hodgkin is a new addition to the Phillips… (Phillips Collection )

The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., will mark its 90th year with free admission Saturday and Sunday -- and more than one birthday cake. The free weekend also marks the reopening of the original part of the museum --  the home of founder Duncan Phillips -- which has been closed for repairs since being damaged by a fire in September.

The museum plans “90 Years of New” events throughout the year. Some highlights: Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party," one of the best-known paintings in the collection, will move to its original location in the first gallery that was opened to the public in 1921. And the museum plans to re-create a room that in 1948 was dedicated to works of Paul Klee.

The Phillips offers rare qualities among Washington museums: small and intimate, compared with the behemoth Smithsonians on the Mall. The original house and added-on galleries near Dupont Circle hold masterpieces of European and American modern art. I spent an entire day there last spring riveted by the "Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction" exhibit of more than 100 works.

Now, about those cakes. Top restaurant chefs in Washington will be displaying their art-inspired creations this weekend as part of the birthday cake celebration. Travis Olson of 1789 Restaurant plans one with colored spice cookies to reflect Klee's work. Peter Brett of the Blue Duck Tavern will echo a particular Matisse painting with layers of cake that culminate in a bowl of fruit.

Visitors can view the cakes over the weekend and "vote" for their favorite in the form of $1 donations to the museum's education program. Free Champagne will be served in the cafe -- while it lasts.

Contact: The Phillips Collection, (202) 387-2151

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