Thursday, October 5, 2006
Media only: Gabriel Einsohn (202) 633-2822
Public only: (202) 633-1000
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of the world’s leading museums of international modern and contemporary art. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Hirshhorn is one of 19 Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers. The museum opened on Oct. 1, 1974, as a result of the efforts and generosity of American entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981), who donated his collection to the Smithsonian Institution in 1966. Designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, the museum’s elevated drum shaped building has 60,000 square feet of exhibition space inside and nearly four acres outside in its two-level Sculpture Garden and plaza. This welcoming, contemplative environment is designed to encourage visitors to connect with art in their own ways. Since September 2005, the Hirshhorn has been led by Olga Viso, the fourth director, who began her tenure in 1995, first serving as curator of contemporary art and next as the museum’s deputy director.
Collection and Acquisitions
The museum is committed to putting the work and ideas of contemporary visual artists forward and in the context of modernist works of art from the collection. The permanent collection of more than 11,500 works of art includes pieces by leading artists from the late 19th century to the present day and includes paintings, sculpture, mixed media pieces, photography, works on paper, video and film. The Hirshhorn has one of the most comprehensive collections of modern sculpture in the world, with many examples on view indoors and in the Sculpture Garden. Strengths of the collection include contemporary art, in-depth holdings of work by Willem de Kooning, Alberto Giacometti, Clyfford Still and other European painters and sculptors since World War II, as well as American painting since the late 19th century. An active acquisitions program continually adds work to the collection in all media, with an emphasis on new work and the work of artists exhibiting at and collaborating with the museum. By collecting, preserving, researching and exhibiting modern and contemporary art, the Hirshhorn ensures that current and future generations will experience this vital social force that enhances and illuminates contemporary life.
The Hirshhorn presents a dynamic and forward-looking array of exhibitions, special projects and public programs that invite visitors to get closer to artists and experience the transformative potential of contemporary art. Mid-career surveys and comprehensive retrospectives of living and historical artists and group exhibitions are organized and presented continually, elucidating current artistic trends as well as movements in the history of art. Two distinctive series, “Directions,” which explores new work by emerging and established artists, and the Black Box space, which presents recent film and video works by a diverse range of emerging international artists, are examples of the Hirshhorn’s commitment to bringing the newest and best in contemporary art to the public. This year, the Hirshhorn also launched a new series, “Ways of Seeing,” which presents individual artists’, filmmakers’ and other creative thinkers’ perspectives through installations of the museum’s collection.
The Hirshhorn’s innovative line-up of programs provides the opportunity to acquire further insight into exhibitions and art-related issues. Program highlights include: Meet the Artist lectures, Artist on Artist gallery tours, the annual James T. Demetrion Lecture, children’s programming and interactive artmaking workshops for youth, designed and lead by working artists. Several times a year, the museum hosts Hirshhorn After Hours, late-night events with music, refreshments and exhibition-related programming that encourages local residents to enjoy art in a social setting. The world-renowned Hirshhorn film program, one of the first in the United States to focus on independent cinema, offers narrative and experimental features, documentaries and shorts. Held in the 272-seat Gustave and Marion Ring Auditorium, the program is also noted for screening films by and about artists and presenting world premieres.
Hours and Location
The museum is open daily (except Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The plaza and Sculpture Garden open at 7:30 a.m., with the plaza closing at 5:30 p.m. and the Sculpture Garden closing at dusk. On selected Thursdays during the summer, gallery hours are extended to 8 p.m. The Hirshhorn is located along the south side of the National Mall, at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W.: The museum entrance is on Independence Avenue and the Sculpture Garden may be accessed from the Mall and Jefferson Drive. The nearest Metrorail stop is L’Enfant Plaza on the Green, Yellow, Blue and Orange lines (Maryland Avenue exit).
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