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The Phillips Collection may be best known for its 19th and 20th century works, but a new installation by German artist Wolfgang Laib propels it into 2013. For his first permanent wax installation in a museum, Laib has covered a closet in the Phillips with 660 pounds of melted beeswax. The space, lit by a single bulb, yields a soft, dim glow, with just enough illumination for the viewer to witness the process of Laib’s work. The result is a fragrant, womblike space that might lend a glimpse into the life of a bee. While the room is tiny—it can only accommodate one or two people at a time—it’s hard to miss. Even from yards away, a distinctive waxy smell wafts through the air.

The Laib Wax Room is on view Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; and Sundays 11 a.m.–6 p.m. beginning March 2 at the Phillips Collection. 1600 21st St. NW. $10–$12. (202) 387-2151. phillipscollection.org.