Celebrate Love At The Phillips Collection

Men's Dating

Celebrate Art in Washington, D.C., with a Date at The Phillips Collection 

Chloë Hylkema

Written by: Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema loves using her writing skills to tell stories that matter. Her time as an English student at Emory University molded her into a detailed writer with a knack for the relatable. Chloë is familiar with what it means to date in the modern age, and she endeavors to write material that is both truthful and helpful. She has previously worked as lead campaign writer for an animal advocacy group and now brings her passion for engaging and actionable content to DatingAdvice.com.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!

The Short Version: The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., is America’s first museum of modern and contemporary art. Iconic permanent collections, compelling exhibitions, and after-hours events make this historic location the perfect place for D.C.-area couples to connect with each other through shared art experiences.  

Want to really get to know somebody? Ask them what they think of a piece of modern art. In a city known for exceptional museum experiences, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., stands out as America’s first home for modern and contemporary art. D.C.-area couples in search of a date that engages art and culture in the beautiful Dupont Circle neighborhood should consider The Phillips Collection. 

With permanent collections, special exhibitions, and unique after-hours opportunities to explore the museum, couples with a variety of interests can find connection and quality time together at The Phillips Collection.

A spokesperson for The Phillips Collection, filled us in on the museum and upcoming events that make great date nights. “Integral to our mission is the belief in art’s ability to facilitate new conversations and connect us with important ideas of our time,” they said. “We want to encourage togetherness.”

Events for Lovers (of Art and Otherwise)

While the Phillips Collection’s permanent collection and exhibitions provide plenty for couples on a date to see and interact with, the museum offers special programming on a monthly basis. From the monthly Phillips after 5 events to live music events, there is surely a program that would make the perfect date for any couple.

A Night at the Museum

The Phillips Collection’s program Phillips after 5 gives couples an opportunity to visit the museum past its normal operating hours and have an out-of-the-ordinary museum experience. Taking place on the first Thursday of every month, Phillips after 5 is one of the Phillips’s most popular events. It’s perfect for couples who want a laid-back combination of art, music, and food. 

Parts of the collection are opened for later-night viewing, and couples can grab drinks or finger foods and explore the museum. Live music brought to the collection by local musicians provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening. Each month’s After 5 program is centered around special exhibitions and works on view from the museum collection. 

Exterior view of the Phillips Collection, a early-20th century building on a tree-lined street
The Phillips Collection House, Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Robert Lautman.

Phillips after 5 events have brought an array of art, music, and food to the collection. Past programs include “A Night on the Seine” from 2019, which featured French wine, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres set against the backdrop of acoustic melodies by the Broke Royals. Museum-goers enjoyed pastries and didn’t have to use too much of their imagination to place themselves in France, taking a stroll by the iconic river at night.

Phillips after 5 has an immersive yet relaxed quality that makes it perfect for couples going to the museum for the first time. The June 2023 Phillips after 5 will be a special Pride Month celebration to kick off Capitol Pride. From 5 pm to 8:30 pm on Thursday, June 1, 2023, this event will offer tastings of Civic Pride vodka and live musical performances from queer pop composer Be Steadwell.

On the first Thursday in July 2023, the Phillips after 5 will be focused around celebrating all things photography. The event will feature photography-inspired music, spotlight talks, drinks, and art activities as part of 2023’s summer exhibition entitled “Frank Stewart’s Nexus: An American Photographer’s Journey, 1960s to the Present”. Each Phillips after 5 offers an assortment of alcoholic beverages at a limited bar, making it a great spot to kick off a date night on the town. 

The D.C. Jazz Festival will be taking over Phillips after 5 on Aug. 3, 2023. There will be live jazz throughout the galleries by the Langston Hughes II Quarter, double bass master Herman Burney, and steel pan soloist Jeremy Caesar. Couples looking for a bite to eat can enjoy Savor BBQ from Smoke Stack’s House of BBQ or island fare from Jerk@Nite. The bar will feature rum punch and a selection of New Orleans brews. Whether it be a brief stop during a busy night out or the main attraction, Phillips after 5 will give couples a lot to talk about.

Bringing Music to D.C.

Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection, was interested in the ways music and visual art relate to one another. He saw that both spoke to the same part of us as humans, and believed that they should be in close proximity. The Phillips Music program is born of this belief, and offers full-season lineups featuring a variety of artists. 

Wood-paneled room with art pieces
The Sunday Concert series is hosted in the Music Room, a space situated in the original Phillips home. Photo courtesy of The Phillips Collection.

The Sunday Concert series is one of the longest running music series in D.C., providing live music performances on Sundays and Thursdays from September to May each season. Music ensembles at the Sunday Concert series bring creativity and innovation to the Music Room, an oak-paneled gallery space within the original Phillips home. The works of visual artists on exhibit in the Music Room are pushed into dialogue with the music, making for a conversation-starting date. 

Year-Round Opportunities for Connection

Couples who may need flexibility when planning a date night will find that The Phillips Collection’s permanent pieces and rotating exhibitions provide reliable encounters with art and one another. Home to a growing collection of nearly 6,000 works, the museum runs the gambit in its representations of modern and contemporary art.

Copy of a piece of art by Dindga McCannon, called "Charlie Parker and Some of the Amazing Musicians He Influenced," Painting from 1983
Dindga McCannon, Charlie Parker and Some of the Amazing Musicians He Influenced, Painting from 1983, mixed media quilt from 2010, 54×44 in., The Phillips Collection, Director’s Discretionary Fund.

The collection houses the works of several household names, including Vincent van Gogh’s “The Road Menders” and El Greco’s “The Repentant St. Peter.” Several of Mark Rothko’s iconically modern color fields are on display and sure to spark a conversation between couples about what art is. Quintessentially 20th century and American, the museum houses an extensive collection of Jacob Lawrence’s paintings.

“Pour, Tear, Carve: Material Possibilities in the Collection” will be on exhibition until May 14, 2023. The pieces for this exhibition were curated from the museum’s permanent collection and explore how materiality translates meaning. A variety of materials, from sand to torn fabric to bones, work together to cultivate the viewer’s understanding of modern and contemporary art. This exhibition is sure to start lively conversations between couples who enjoy art and the questions it raises.

Where Art History and Romance Meet

From its inception in 1921, the vision for The Phillips Collection was an experimental one. Modern art is marked by its departure from past artistic traditions, and The Phillips Collection aims to keep innovation on the forefront of the national art scene.

The Phillips Collection was born out of a partnership between married couple Marjorie Acker and Duncan Phillips in the early 21st century. During their partnership they collected nearly 2,500 works of art, Acker taking directorship of the museum and collection once Phillips passed.

Person looking up at large painting in gallery
Couples can explore galleries throughout the historic building. Photo courtesy of The Phillips Collection.

The Phillips team’s belief in innovation and its willingness to take risks meant that the collection came into possession of many works by artists who were not widely known at the time. These unknown artists include now-prolific Milton Avery, Jacob Lawrence, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Visual art has a special capacity to reveal the hidden. Reflecting on art with a date allows couples to uncover things about themselves and each other that otherwise may go unnoticed. A date to The Phillips Collection, whether it be after hours at Phillips after 5 or a sunlit stroll around its permanent collection, has boundless potential for connection and closeness.

The spokesperson this special ability of art, but also that of The Phillips Collection specifically: “There are opportunities to meet new people, for relationships to form, but to also fall in love with the Phillips itself.”