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Alwar Balasubramaniam and Ranjani Shettar

In 2021, The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, celebrates its centennial. The museum opened its doors 100 years ago as a memorial to founder Duncan Phillips’s father, Duncan Clinch Phillips, and brother, James, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Recognizing the healing power of art, Phillips sought to share his “living” collection in a welcoming space and to inspire others to find beauty in the artist’s unique way of seeing the world. Building on this founding principle, Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century at once commemorates the museum’s centennial and launches its next vibrant chapter.

Drawn from its growing collection of nearly 6,000 works, Seeing Differently will highlight over 200 works by artists from the 19th century to the present, including paintings, works on paper, prints, photographs, sculptures, quilts, and videos. Spread throughout the entire museum, the exhibition will explore the complexities of our ever-changing world through themes of identity, history, place, and the senses—with special focus on recent acquisitions that showcase how the museum’s dynamic collection continues to evolve.

Seeing Differently marks the first major celebration of the museum’s permanent collection in over 10 years. Guided by Duncan Phillips’s belief in the universal language of art as a unifying force for social change, the exhibition will present dynamic, engaging juxtapositions that connect artists past and present across national, racial, and gender lines.


Alwar Balasubramaniam | Hold Nothing | 2012 | Cast from Artist's body, Fiberglass and Acrylic | 7" x 42" x 24"

Ranjani Shettar | Mohana | 2019 | Thread and beeswax | 94" x 53" x 55"

In the Collection of The Phillips Collection, Washington DC