The culmination of the ambitious Phillips Collection project finally is in sight ["A Bigger Phillips, With Deeper Pockets," Style, Sept. 19].
The Phillips Collection has always provided an intimate setting in which to view modern art, and for more than 40 years it has been a special destination for those who love the paintings of my father, Mark Rothko. Long before I became a Washingtonian, I traveled with my parents to see its "Rothko Room."
My father first met Duncan Phillips in the mid-1950s and recognized him as an astute and sensitive collector. My father's works were first exhibited at the Phillips in early 1957, and the Rothko Room opened in the new annex in November 1960 with three paintings. A fourth was added in 1965.
This marked the first time that my father fulfilled his vision of having his paintings exhibited alone (not with other painters) and in groups. He favored an intimate setting and a relatively small space in which the viewer would feel surrounded by the pictures. He also favored low and diffuse lighting for his works. The original Rothko Room, designed by Duncan Phillips, was sensitive to all these concerns.
After reading the Style article, I requested a tour of the partially finished space. The original scale has been maintained in the new room, so the works will again hang in an intimate setting; benches will enable viewers to meditate on the paintings. The room occupies the only gallery space on the second floor of the new building, so it is a true destination.
Now that I have seen the room in an incomplete state, only one question remains in my mind: whether it will have the diffuse lighting my father would have wanted.
The Rothko Room at the Phillips is one of only four such rooms in the world -- the others are in the Rothko Chapel in Houston, the Tate Gallery in London and Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art in Japan.
The original installation at the Phillips was particularly loved by my father because it was the first such room, and I believe that if he were alive to see the new version, he might be even more satisfied with it than he was with the original.