The Phillips Collection dips into the nightlife scene, with their monthly happy hour that celebrates art, music, food and wine.
By Katherine Delmonico
Tucked in a gorgeous residential block of Dupont Circle, it’s easy to almost miss the unobtrusive Phillips Collection. What used to serve as a home for founder Duncan Phillips, now houses a spectacular collection of permanent art pieces, as well as impressive traveling exhibits. Even more spectacular – every first Thursday of the month the gallery hosts a culturally rich happy hour, with DC’s young and artfully inclined gathering to enjoy the collection, music and conversation
Walking by, you might not even notice the museum; save for the fact that on this particular Thursday evening, the museum was lit up and a diverse cross-section of D.C.’s art lovers (and casual cocktail seekers) were on line outside. Upon arriving, Shira Pinsker, Publicist for the Phillips Collection, showed me around the beautifully spare and modern space. They were preparing to debut their Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, which was opened on Saturday, February 6th and will run through May 9th (helpful tip: the last day of the exhibit is Mother’s Day, so visiting the exhibit is a great idea for a thoughtful activity if you have family in town or your mom lives in the area). Strolling through the museum, there were several locations and activities to enjoy, allowing for the sizeable crowd to be spread throughout the space. As I passed by one room, a group was gathered around Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party as a museum curator was giving a “Gallery Talk”. Another station was set up to provide tastings of Godiva’s new chocolate liqueurs. Around the corner there were beautifully presented tapas tastings. With dark wood paneled walls and ornate decorations, the music and cocktails portion of the event was cozy, elegant and sophisticated. Partygoers could enjoy the deejaying talents of DJ Adrian Loving, admire artwork, snack on finger foods or indulge in a strawberry fondue station.
However, one of the most unique activities was taking place in a video booth. A love theme encompassed the event as it fell in the weeks before Valentine’s Day, and at Phillips After 5 the Phillips Collection sought to capture love stories that involved the museum. One couple, Pinsker told me, had met at a Phillips’ event in 1996 and were married soon after. Another used a piece of art in the Phillips’ permanent collection for the inspiration for their wedding. As these stories began to filter through the ears of Phillips employees, they decided they wanted to capture them on film, so they placed a video booth in the event that allowed couples to relay their stories of how the Phillips had been a part of their love story, whether it be a first date, where someone proposed, or simply a place the couple enjoyed spending time together. See one of these stories posted on the Phillips Collection YouTube channel.
One of the most appealing things about this event is the fact that it offers none of the pretense and intimidation that can be common with some “artsy” events. The crowd certainly skewed younger, but it truly did represent a diverse cross section of people. With numerous activities, the event provided the option for an avid art lover to immerse themselves in an evening of culture or for the casual gallery-goer to simply relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the scenery. With a certain lively energy that made it a genuinely enjoyable experience, Phillips After 5 has a finger on the pulse of the youthful nightlife scene in D.C.
Please visit the Phillips Collection website for more information on upcoming Phillips After 5 events.