Board of Trustees records
Scope and Contents
Board of Trustees records in this collection document the governance and administrative activities of the trustees. Records consist primarily of meeting minutes of the museum’s Board of Trustees, recorded for nearly a century from the time of the institution’s incorporation in 1920 (with a noted gap from 1959 to 1973—whereabouts of those records are unknown); and documentation of the board’s various committee meetings held mostly from the late 1980s through the first decade of the twenty-first century. There are also files on individual trustees, and files containing by-laws and governance documents.
- Creation: 1920 - ongoing
Conditions Governing Access
This collection includes restricted material.
Conditions Governing Use
Oversized architectural drawings (boxes 43-44) require handling with care.
Biographical / Historical
The Phillips Memorial Art Gallery (renamed Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1923; The Phillips Gallery in 1948; and in 1961 The Phillips Collection, as it is now known) was incorporated by the District of Columbia on July 23, 1920, primarily to house a collection of works of art for exhibition purposes to which the public would have access, subject to reasonable rules and regulations established by the trustees. On that day, the gallery’s incorporators and members, Duncan Phillips along with Bernard H. Fowle and Dwight Clark, held their first meeting to organize the corporation, adopt the by-laws, and nominate the corporation’s first trustees. The by-laws mandated that the affairs and funds of the corporation be controlled and managed by a board of trustees (initially four trustees, each elected to the board by members of the corporation). The museum’s first elected officers were: Duncan Phillips, President; Augustus Vincent Tack, Vice-President; Dwight Clark, Treasurer; and Bernard H. Fowle, Secretary.
In the year that followed, at the first annual board meeting held on February 16, 1921, Duncan Phillips presented the trustees with his and his mother’s wishes for developing the memorial, outlining their tentative plan and purpose for the gallery. As part of the record of the meeting, Phillips put his remarks on paper and these were inserted with the minutes. It was also resolved that a “Committee on Scope and Plan” be created, to include the broad counsel of those in Phillips’s judgment most eminently qualified as leaders of their professional calling to advise him in shaping the educational policy of the Memorial. Among those invited to participate was Marjorie Acker, whom he married in the fall of 1921.
Duncan Phillips (1886-1966), was founder and director of the museum which began as a living memorial to his father and brother. When it opened to the public in 1921 with works exhibited in the Main Gallery of the Phillips family residence, the house was still occupied by Duncan, his wife Marjorie Acker, and Duncan’s mother, Eliza Laughlin. The collection and its exhibition spaces expanded over the years, but the setting remained an intimate, comfortable museum in a residential neighborhood. Duncan served as the museum’s director until his death in 1966, and served as corporation president and director of the trustees from 1920 to 1966. Although the number of trustees varied with the addition of a few close friends, the board remained a relatively small, mostly family affair. After her husband’s death, Marjorie Acker Phillips (1894-1985) became director of the museum. She served as a trustee intermittently from1922 to1983, and was first elected a member of the corporation in 1925. Two other family individuals served as members and trustees of the board during Duncan’s lifetime – his nephew Gifford Phillips, and his son Laughlin Phillips.
Laughlin Phillips (1924-2010), a founder of Washingtonian magazine, succeeded his mother Marjorie Phillips to become director of The Phillips Collection in 1972, a tenure that spanned two decades from 1972-1992. In the 1980s the museum underwent a period of intense growth and activity led by Laughlin Phillips, who oversaw the collection’s remarkable transformation from a home filled with paintings to a professional museum. First elected as a trustee in 1948, he served as president and chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1966-2005, during which time he actively transformed the board. In 1982 the by-laws were amended to increase the number of trustees from five to nine, and three non-family members were elected, adding a new dimension to the board. By 1989 that number was enlarged to twenty-one trustees serving staggered terms. At Laughlin’s suggestion the board’s committee structure also evolved with newly formed committees to better serve the board, and in 1985 The Phillips Collection elected to accept the provisions of the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act.
These actions set in motion a progressive evolution of the Collection from that of a small family museum to a major publicly-supported institution directed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. It prepared the way for a board that would expand and broaden during the tenures of the museum’s subsequent directors – Charles S. Moffett (1992-1998); Jay Gates (1998-2008); and Dorothy Kosinski (2008-present).
27.1 Linear Feet (65 full legal boxes)
Language of Materials
The Phillips Collection Board of Trustees records (1920 - ongoing) contain materials created and maintained by the Office of the Director, The Phillips Collection, documenting the interaction between the Office of the Director and The Phillips Collection Board of Trustees and its committees. Included are trustee biographies; correspondence and memorandums; meeting agendas and minutes; directives and resolutions; reports; financial data; and related materials.
The collection is organized into four major series.
Series 1: Trustee Member Files, 1966-2013 (boxes 1-15)
Series 2: Board of Trustees By-laws and Governing Documents, 1920; 1973-2004 (boxes 16-18)
Series 3: Board of Trustees Minutes, 1920-2011 (boxes 19-37)
Series 4: Committee Records, 1921; 1982-2013 (boxes 38-65)
This collection is owned by The Phillips Collection, and was accessioned from the director’s office between 2008 and 2014 in accordance with the museum’s records schedule.
Rights and Permissions
The Board of Trustees Records are subject to all copyright laws. The museum holds literary rights only for materials created by personnel of The Phillips Collection or given to the museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and other purposes. See Karen Schneider, Librarian, for further information and to obtain required forms.
Records have been fully processed with metal fasteners removed, clippings and adhesive notes photocopied if necessary, and all documents re-housed into acid free folders. Approval was given by the librarian to weed a significant amount of duplicate documents (meeting minutes, agendas, and handouts), retaining those with hand-written annotations. Folder headings were maintained when possible. Portions of the folder contents were artificially arranged for ease of access and use. Oversized materials housed in the records remain folded within the files, including a 1984 rendering of the proposed Braque bird for the annex exterior (Fritchey file, box 5, folder 7) and numerous architectural drawing copies contained within folders of the Building and Grounds Committee (boxes 43-44). Two non-print items are in the records, a diskette annotated as “Board Meeting / Collecting @ Phillips presentation,” housed in a file for the board meeting of March 17, 2008; and an education diskette in a file for the board meeting of June 27, 2011.Records have been fully processed with metal fasteners removed, clippings and adhesive notes photocopied if necessary, and all documents re-housed into acid free folders. Approval was given by the librarian to weed a significant amount of duplicate documents (meeting minutes, agendas, and handouts), retaining those with hand-written annotations. Folder headings were maintained when possible. Portions of the folder contents were artificially arranged for ease of access and use. Oversized materials housed in the records remain folded within the files, including a 1984 rendering of the proposed Braque bird for the annex exterior (Fritchey file, box 5, folder 7) and numerous architectural drawing copies contained within folders of the Building and Grounds Committee (boxes 43-44). Two non-print items are in the records, a diskette annotated as “Board Meeting / Collecting @ Phillips presentation,” housed in a file for the board meeting of March 17, 2008; and an education diskette in a file for the board meeting of June 27, 2011.
- Board of Trustees records, 1920 - ongoing
- The Phillips Collection Library and Archives 1600 21st Street NW Washington D.C. 20009
- Colleen Hennessey, Archives Assistant, supervised by Karen Schneider, Librarian
- December 2011 - October 2012; July - August 2014
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the The Phillips Collection Archives Repository
1600 21st St. NW
Washington DC 20009 United States