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Posted at 9:15 AM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Phillips gears up for a celebration

By Jacqueline Trescott

The Phillips Collection has set the date for the official reopening of the original house, which has been closed since a disastrous fire in September.

All the work will be finished by Jan. 15, the museum announced, and a celebration will begin that day to welcome back the famed paintings. The art was not harmed in the Sept. 2 fire, which was restricted to the roof and the suite of offices right under the roof. But there was extensive water damage to 12 galleries in the 1897 building.

Certainly the re-opening is the prime reason to mark the 90th anniversary of the popular gallery.

However the staff is planning much more and is promoting all activities under the banner "90 Years of New."

The Phillips will be free Jan. 15 and 16 during the kick-off. Specialty birthday cakes will be displayed. All are being created by local chefs from Restaurant Eve's Rebekka Baltzell to Blue Duck Tavern's Peter Brett to Cake Love's Warren Brown. The public will vote for the best by placing a $1 in front of the confectionery, the tally indicating the winner and the money going to the museum's education programs.

If this wasn't sweet enough, the Phillips is also introducing a guide in how to do the museum in 90 minutes and a "relay tour" of how to look at 90 works of art with ten minutes of study in front of each.

A screengrab from the museum's new mobile phone application.

New this week is the museum's official mobile phone application. That would turn Renoir's head and, of course, the Phillips's prize possession of "Luncheon of the Boating Party" is featured on a screen. After a free download to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, nearly 3,000 works of art can be viewed, as well as browsing audio guides, podcasts and videos.

When the historic mansion re-opens there will be a special installation of Sir Howard Hodgkin's "As Time Goes by," completed in 2009 and consisting of two 20 foot long etchings. Hodgkin, a holder of the coveted Turner Prize, had his first U.S. exhibition at the Phillips in 1984.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | December 1, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott, Museums  | Tags:  90th anniversary of Phillips Collection, D.C. museum, Phillips Collection, Renoir, Washington, reopening after fire  
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