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Help The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, create an extraordinary permanent installation—a beeswax room by German artist Wolfgang Laib
The Phillips Collection
858 Facebook Friends
Washington, District of Columbia
United States
1 Team Member


Help The Phillips Collection create a major new permanent installation—a wax room by eminent German artist Wolfgang Laib. Lined with fragrant beeswax and illuminated by a single bare light bulb, the Laib Wax Room—the museum’s first permanent installation in over 50 years—will offer a new meditative space at the Phillips. This installation is in memory of longtime supporter, trustee, and friend Caroline Macomber.

Friends of the Phillips, artists Brian and Paula Ballo Dailey, will match your gift, dollar for dollar, up to $15,000. Make a contribution by February 28 and you will not only support a significant portion of the cost to commission this unique work, but also make sure the room is kept in perfect condition so that generations of visitors may experience the immersive space.

To thank you, the Phillips offers a host of perks—from a custom designed honey-scented scratch-and-sniff postcard, to a Phillips membership (for a year of free admission, discounts, and much more), tickets to the Phillips’s dazzling 2013 Annual Gala After Party at the Italian Embassy, and an opportunity to join the artist for an exclusive celebration.

Photos of The Phillips Collection galleries and exterior
The Laib Wax Room will join major artwork in the collection, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s iconic Luncheon of the Boating Party and Jacob Lawrence’s epic Migration Series.

As a contributor to this campaign, you are making art history and sharing countless joy-giving, life-enhancing experiences with museum visitors in years to come.


The Laib Wax Room—a significant commitment to contemporary art and artistic innovation—will join masterpieces of French impressionism and American modernism in the Phillips’s intimate galleries. The wax room demonstrates art’s life-enhancing power, a quality founder Duncan Phillips championed when he opened the museum in Washington, D.C., in 1921.

Photos of the Rothko Room and a Laib Wax Room
“A wax chamber has a very deep and open relationship to Rothko’s paintings,” explains Laib, because to enter a wax room is to be “in another world, maybe on another planet and in another body.”

The Laib Wax Room will be the first permanent installation at the Phillips since 1960, when Duncan Phillips opened the Rothko Room, a gallery dedicated to Mark Rothko’s color-saturated canvases. This installation is the first permanent wax room Wolfgang Laib has conceived of and created for a specific museum. With walls and ceiling coated in beeswax and bare floor, this contemplative chamber will offer an immediate and intense personal experience.

To install the work, artist Wolfgang Laib will melt approximately 800 pounds of beeswax to a uniform golden hue. He will then use tools such as a spatula, spackle knife, electric heating gun, and warm iron to apply the wax methodically onto the walls and ceiling of the 6-by-7-by-10-foot space.


Wolfgang Laib lives and works in Germany and India. Over four decades, he has used organic substances associated with life-giving sustenance—milk, pollen, beeswax, rice—to create art of extreme simplicity and meditative power. Laib began working in beeswax in 1988 and has used removable wax plates to create wax rooms for exhibitions in New York, Germany, and the Netherlands. Laib went on to create beeswax chambers in nature—his first, created in 2000, is situated in a cave of the French Pyrenees and is accessible only by footpath; his most recent, on his property in southern Germany, extends more than 40 feet into the earth. For these outdoor rooms, Laib heated wax and applied it directly to the walls with an iron, a method that he will use at the Phillips.

Photos of Wolfgang Laib and Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann
Wolgang Laib installing a Pollen Field at the Hirshhorn Museum in 2002; Phillips Curator at Large Klauss Ottmann filling a Laib Milkstone in the Phillips galleries in 2011; Laib installing a wax room in southern Germany.

Other major works by Laib include Milkstone, an ongoing series in which the slight concavity of a polished white marble slab is filled daily with fresh milk. Laib’s pollen pieces are also highly ritualistic—in spring and summer the artist collects dandelion, hazelnut, pine, buttercup, and moss pollens and then displays the delicate material in simple jars or sifted directly onto the gallery floor. Laib's largest pollen piece to date is now on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Born in Metzingen in 1950, the artist studied medicine but in 1972 turned to art. A decade later, Laib participated in Documenta (7) in Kassel, Germany, and in 1986 had his first solo exhibition at Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris in France. His work has been the focus of major exhibitions in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Bolivia, and in the U.S. at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. His work is in numerous private and public collections around the world, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.


The Phillips Collection is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of impressionist and modern American and European art. Stressing the continuity between art of the past and present, it offers a strikingly original and experimental approach to modern art by combining works of different nationalities and periods in displays that change frequently. The growing list of artists represented in the collection includes Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, and important artists of today. 

Photos of The Phillips Collection galleries and events
A treasured institution in the D.C. area, the Phillips features chamber music performances and public programs for art lovers of all ages.

The Phillips also produces award-winning education programs for K–12 teachers and students, as well as for adults. The museum’s Center for the Study of Modern Art explores new ways of thinking about art and the nature of creativity and provides a forum for scholars. Since 1941, the museum has hosted Sunday chamber music concerts. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations. 

Find This Campaign On
raised by 119 people in 1 month
108% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$15,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on February 28, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $25USD
    Hive Helper

    Receive a custom honey-scented scratch-and-sniff postcard featuring the Laib Wax Room *fully tax deductible

    46 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $100USD

    All $25 rewards PLUS a certificate, signed by Phillips Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann, acknowledging your contribution to Phillips history *fully tax deductible

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $250USD

    All $100 rewards PLUS a book about the Laib Wax Room signed by the artist PLUS a yearlong membership to The Phillips Collection at the Contemporary level including unlimited free admission and discounts (active members receive a year extension; good faith estimate of a Contemporary membership is $50) *$200 tax deductible

    15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $500USD

    All $250 rewards PLUS a ticket to the dazzling 2013 Annual Gala After Party at the Embassy of Italy *$300 tax deductible

    4 out of 500 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $1,000USD

    All $500 rewards PLUS an exclusive celebration on March 2 with artist Wolfgang Laib *$700 tax deductible

    4 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
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