Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Director: Melissa Chiu
Total Full-Time Employees: 44
Annual Budget (federal and trust) FY 2015: $10.94 million*
* Amount does not include $8–10 million Smithsonian operational support
Approximate Number of Artworks: 12,000
Visits (2015): 681,000
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. The museum opened 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 in 1966. Designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, the museum has 60,000 square feet of exhibition space inside its elevated circular building and nearly four acres outside in its multilevel Sculpture Garden and Plaza.
The permanent collection of roughly 12,000 artworks includes pieces by leading artists from the late 19th century to the present day and comprises paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed‑media installations, works on paper and new media works. 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.
In-depth holdings include works by Josef Albers, Francis Bacon, John Baldessari, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Thomas Eakins, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Salvatore Scarpitta, David Smith, Clyfford Still and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
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. Artists such as Ai Weiwei, Doug Aitken, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Douglas Gordon, David Hammons, Mona Hatoum, Robert Irwin, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Susan Philipsz, Adrian Piper, Gerhard Richter, Doris Salcedo and Rachel Whiteread are represented by major works. Global modernism is also a collecting focus, and recent additions include works by Chung Sang-Hwa, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Natsuyuki Nakanishi and Park Seobo. African-American artists recently entering the collection include Charles Gaines, Jennie C. Jones and Senga Nengudi.
Recent major exhibitions are “Shirin Neshat: Facing History,” “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950,” “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” “Doug Aitken: SONG 1,” “Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers,” “Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection” and “Louise Bourgeois.”
The “Directions” series explores new work by emerging and established artists. Recent exhibitions have featured Jeremy Deller, Jennie C. Jones, Grazia Toderi, Cyprien Gaillard and Mario Garcia Torres, and Pipilotti Rist. The Hirshhorn’s commitment to moving-image artworks can be seen in exhibitions by artists such as Ragnar Kjartansson, Oliver Laric, Santiago Sierra and Jorge Galindo, DEMOCRACIA, Ali Kazma, Nira Pereg, Hans Op de Beeck and SUPERFLEX.
The Hirshhorn’s innovative lineup of programs provides the opportunity to acquire further insight into exhibitions and art-related issues. Program highlights are the Meet the Artist lectures, with speakers such as Shirin Neshat, Jason Moran and Theaster Gates, Jake Chapman, Ann Hamilton, Christo, Barbara Kruger and Vito Acconci; Friday Gallery Talks; and the annual James T. Demetrion Lecture, which has featured speakers such as Claes Oldenburg, Jeff Koons, Doug Aitken, Marina Abramović and Simon Schama. Education initiatives include ARTLAB+, a participatory learning program for local teens, with working artists serving as mentors, and ARTWORKS, a series of workshops for teachers and school groups. 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 noted for screening films by and about artists and presenting world premieres.
About the Museum
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. 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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