News Releases

Hirshhorn Announces New Partnership With Art in Embassies

Institutions Will Work Together To Cultivate Diplomacy Through Global Contemporary Art

December 20, 2016

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has announced a new, long-term partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies, a global program that fosters public diplomacy through the visual arts. The collaboration will allow for both institutions to develop international exhibitions, extended loans, artist residencies and programming. It will kick off Jan. 11, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hirshhorn’s Ring Auditorium with a public discussion and reception featuring renowned contemporary artists Nick Cave (b. 1959, United States), Imran Qureshi (b. 1972, Pakistan) and Pat Steir (b. 1940, United States).

“Throughout the past 50 years, Art in Embassies has played a critical role in encouraging international cultural exchange, creating lasting connections through a shared passion in the visual arts,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “As a public institution with a global audience, we are excited by the opportunity to join forces as we advance our mission of showcasing renowned contemporary artists who explore the most significant political and cultural issues of our time.”

The day after the discussion Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of State will recognize artists Cave, Jenny Holzer, Wolf Kahn, Qureshi, Steir and Rachel Whiteread with the International Medal of Arts during a biennial awards ceremony.

“Through culture, we can introduce ideas, and each of these artists has contributed to the artistic landscape of our nation in significant ways,” said Virginia Shore, Art in Embassies’ acting director and chief curator. “Their artwork evokes our universal aspirations as human beings and highlights our shared experiences with people of other lands, backgrounds and faiths.”

Future partnership initiatives will be announced in spring 2017.

This event is part of the Hirshhorn’s diverse range of free public programs, which invite today’s leading innovators in art, design, music and technology to explore ideas that shape 21st-century culture. Recent guests include Grammy-winning rock band OK Go, international architect David Adjaye, The New York Times art critic Holland Cotter and digital scientists from MIT and Stanford University, as well as celebrated artists Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Theaster Gates, Robert Irwin, Anish Kapoor, Ragnar Kjartansson, Josh Kline, Linn Meyers and Susan Philipsz.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit

About Art in Embassies

Art in Embassies (AIE) was initiated by the Museum of Modern Art in 1953 and formalized as part of the U.S. Department of State by the Kennedy Administration in 1963. For over 55 years, AIE’s global focus of cultural diplomacy through the visual arts has engaged over 23,000 partnerships with individual and institutional participants in over 200 venues in 189 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

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From left, Nick Cave, Imran Qureshi, Pat Steir

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Composite photo of three panelists