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Posted at 5:29 PM ET, 01/13/2011

The Phillips and Kennedy Center celebrate big anniversaries

By Stephanie Merry

The Phillips Collection celebrates its 90th birthday with newly installed work, including Howard Hodgkin's "As Time Goes By." (Phillips Collection)

It's a big year for two of the area's most-revered cultural institutions. The Phillips Collection kicks off "90 Years of New" with free admission this Saturday and Sunday, proving the museum remains young at heart. Meanwhile, the Kennedy Center commemorates the 50th anniversary of its namesake's inauguration.

Here are the details for what's on tap at each locale.

The Phillips Collection
The weekend of free admission also marks the reopening of the newly renovated house, which has been closed to the public since a September fire. There, visitors will find a number of newly installed works from the permanent collection, including Howard Hodgkin's breathtakingly vibrant 20-foot painted etchings "As Time Goes By."

Art-lovers should take advantage of a barrage of 10-minute tours that illuminate more than 90 works from the museum's collection. Visitors can take one or all of the tours, depending on their capacity for the strangely exhausting museum shuffle.

In a move seemingly inspired by Wayne Thiebaud, there will be a display of masterpieces in cake form. Local pastry chefs Rebekka Baltzell of Restaurant Eve and CakeLove's Warren Brown, among many others, will display their sweet creations inspired by works from the museum's collection. A slightly more effervescent birthday party staple -- bubbly -- will be available in the cafe while supplies last.

The celebration continues throughout the year with art displays signifying some of the museum's important firsts, including a site-specific Sam Gilliam work that will go on view Jan. 29 (Gilliam's first solo show was at the Phillips), and the restoration of the Klee room in September (the original 1938 incarnation was the first room in a museum dedicated to the work of painter Paul Klee).

It all culminates Nov. 5 with a big bash, the plans for which are being ironed out. But, as anyone who has been to Phillips After 5 can attest, the museum knows how to throw a party, so stay tuned for details.

The Kennedy Center
The main event -- a concert on Thursday with Paul Simon, Morgan Freeman, Julie Andrews and Yo-Yo Ma -- is sold out. There's plenty more to choose from, however, such as these highlights:

American Ballet Theatre returns to the Kennedy Center with the company's premiere of the evening-length comic ballet, "The Bright Stream." The production, set to music by Shostakovich, was originally performed by the Maly Opera and Ballet Theater in 1935 Leningrad and banned shortly thereafter.

The National Symphony Orchestra offers up a program that includes "Remembering JFK (An American Elegy)" by Peter Lieberson. The narrated piece, which features the vocal stylings of Richard Dreyfuss, uses text from Kennedy's speeches.

Denyce Graves helps transport audiences to the era of Camelot with a tribute to Grace Bumbry and her 1962 White House concert.

By Stephanie Merry  | January 13, 2011; 5:29 PM ET
Categories:  Museums, Theater  
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