The Seasonal Inflatable Structure at the Hirshhorn Museum is a radically different kind of public space and a marked departure from the conventional auditorium environment. The Structure responds dramatically to one of the critical challenges facing the Hirshhorn: to activate the Museum’s public spaces—the museum lobby, circulation areas and outdoor plazas —and infuse them with a new vitality and purpose demonstrating the larger public role museums can play in society today.
In form and materials alike, this progressive approach is made clear in the Seasonal Inflatable Structure’s award-winning design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architects of the High Line, Lincoln Center renovation, and many other acclaimed projects). Similarly, the programs in the Structure will represent new thinking on the nature of public events in prominent settings. As befits the Structure’s location on the National Mall, these programs will seek to promote true, egalitarian dialogue and exchange on key issues in contemporary arts and culture. Unlike conventional conferences or lectures that automatically create an “us vs. them” divide between speakers and audiences, these programs will treat speakers and audience as equal participants, with multiple viewpoints actively encouraged. The programs’ content will unfold in an informal, intimate atmosphere that encourages in-depth exploration of the topics at hand. This vibrant environment will be linked to the global community via social media technologies, ensuring rich digital content for our online audience. First-person dialogue and online exchange will flourish side by side, creating new kinds of public events that establish the Hirshhorn as an international social and cultural resource in the 21st century.