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Museum of modern and contemporary art, housing major holdings of Eakins, Rodin, Matisse, Moore, Dubuffet, and de Kooning.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, founded by an Act of Congress in 1966, serves as the Smithsonian Institution's showcase for modern and contemporary art. It is named after the American art collector Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981), whose gifts and bequest to the nation was the nucleus for this dynamic art collection.
Open since 1974, the museum keeps current through changing exhibitions and frequent acquisitions, which include purchases and gifts from many donors. Research, publications, interpretive programs, films, and community outreach generate an informed awareness and lively dialogue about current art. Adding to the variety of architecture lining the National Mall, the Hirshhorn's drum-shaped building, surrounded by more than four landscaped acres for sculpture, is the design of award-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft.
It opened in 1974 to house an extensive collection, now enhanced by new works, given to the Smithsonian by financier Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981).
Prime examples of modern art and contemporary visual expression are viewed in the Hirshhorn's striking cylindrical structure and adjoining plaza and sunken sculpture garden. Complementing the permanent collection inside, a sequence of large-scale changing exhibitions and smaller "Directions" shows introduce modern masters and trends of the 1990s.
1938 The proposal for a national museum of modern art was first introduced in Congress. Action was deferred as the Nation struggled to recover from the depression and then was drawn into World War II.
1966 Regaining momentum through the efforts of Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley (b.1912), the proposal became reality when Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981) agreed to give his collection to the Nation to serve as the nucleus for such a museum--a museum of modern and contemporary art established by legislation of the United States Congress. A self-made millionaire, financier and mining magnate from the New York area, the Latvia-born Hirshhorn was an avid collector of modern art who had amassed holdings of more than 6,000 works over a 40-year period.
1969 President Lyndon Johnson presided at groundbreaking for the new museum, to be built on the National Mall directly across from the National Archives.
1974 The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opened as the Smithsonian's public showcase for modern and contemporary art. The museum complex, designed by Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990) of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, was built with federal funds and a supplementary gift from Hirshhorn.
1891 Hirshhorn died, leaving a sizeable bequest of additional works of art. That same year, the Sculpture Garden reopened after a renovation by landscape architect Lester Collins.
1889 The Hirshhorn marked its 15th anniversary. Since opening, the museum had accepted about 1,200 works of art (including some 850 works on paper ) as gifts from more than 200 donors besides Hirshhorn and had purchased some 280 works of art. More than 130 special exhibitions had been presented--the Hirshhorn was the organizing institution for about half of these--generating nearly as many catalogs and brochures and hundreds of public programs.
1993 The sculpture plaza reopened after a renovation by landscape architect James Urban.
Research, publications, interpretive programs, films, and community outreach generate an informed awareness and lively dialogue about current art. Adding to the variety of architecture lining the National Mall, the Hirshhorn's drum-shaped building, surrounded by more than four landscaped acres for sculpture, is the design of award-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft.
Prime examples of modern art and contemporary visual expression are viewed in the Hirshhorn's striking cylindrical structure and adjoining plaza and sunken sculpture garden. Complementing the permanent collection inside, a sequence of large-scale changing exhibitions and smaller "Directions" shows introduce modern masters and trends of the 1990s. Sculpture garden hours are from 7:30 AM until dusk.
Highlights include: Large sculptures by Rodin, Moore, Matisse, Smith and Cragg, in plaza and garden; paintings, in the galleries, by Hopper, de Kooning, Dubuffet, Stella, Kiefer, Murray, Warhol and O'Keeffe.
Numbering about 12,000 paintings, sculptures and works on paper - with 600 works on view at any one time - the Hirshhorn's permanent collection provides a comprehensive look at art from the first stirrings of modernism in the 19th century to the most recent developments in contemporary art. Sculpture by modern masters (much of it situated outdoors), international modernist works of the postwar era, and contemporary art are particular strengths. American and European variations on cubism, social realism, surrealism, geometric abstraction and expressionism trace modern art past the mid-20th century. Contemporary currents range from pop art of the 1960s to recent explorations by emerging artists working in a variety of media.
Smithsonian connection: The Hirshhorn is one of 16 museums of the Smithsonian and one of its eight art museums, together with the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design in New York, the Freer Gallery of Art (Asian and late 19th-century/early 20th- century American art), the National Museum of African Art, the National Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Renwick Gallery (American crafts) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Asian art).
Attendance: The Hirshhorn is one of the most heavily attended art museums in North America. A 1993 attendance of 919,224 visitors was ranked sixth by the Association of Art Museum Directors.
Trustees: The Hirshhorn's 10-member board of trustees meets twice a year. Jerome Greene, art patron from New York City, serves as chairman; ex officio members include the secretary of the Smithsonian and the chief justice of the United States.
Budget: The annual operating budget for fiscal year 1994 is $4.2 million in federal funds, of which approximately $150,000 is specifically for acquisitions. A separate acquisitions endowment is made up of private monies raised through various means.
Architecture: The elevated drum-shaped building and its grounds are sited along the south side of the National Mall, halfway between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. Exhibition space for the collection totals 60,000 square feet inside and nearly 4 acres outside in a distinctive, two-level sunken garden and walled-in plaza. Architect Bunshaft, who won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1987, also designed New York's Lever House (1953), a pivotal early example of Miesian "glass box" architecture, among many projects.
Size: The collection contains some 12,000 works of art, including approximately 5,000 paintings, 3,000 sculptures and mixed-media pieces, and 4,000 works on paper. About 600 works are on view in the galleries, plaza and garden at any one time.
Scope: The Hirshhorn has one of the most comprehensive collections of modern sculpture in the United States or abroad. The collection's other strengths include contemporary art, European painting since World War 11 and American painting since the late 19th century.
Organization: Twentieth-century modernism to the 1960s is presented in third-floor galleries (paintings with sculpture in various media) and Sculpture Garden (mostly bronzes). The contemporary period is the focus of works in the lower-level galleries (paintings, sculptures, mixedmedia works) and plaza (monumental sculpture). The building's glass-enclosed ambulatories, overlooking the fountain, show the evolution of sculpture, from the 1 9th through early 20th centuries (second floor) and from Cubism through contemporary (third floor).
Artists: Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin and David Smith are all represented by important holdings in modern sculpture. Francis Bacon, Balthus, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Jean Dubuffet, Arshile Gorky, Edward Hopper and Frank Stella are 20th-century painters with significant holdings at the Hirshhorn. The spectrum and evolution of contemporary art are reflected in diverse works bv Magdelena Abakanowicz, Christina Iglesias, Anish Kapoor, Anselm Kiefer, Elizabeth Murray, Bruce Nauman, Arnaldo Roche-Rabell, Martin Puryear, Alison Saar, Jan Vercruysse and numerous others.
Movements: Movements represented include, among others, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Color-Field Painting, New Realism and Neo-Expressionism (painting) and Cubism, Constructivism, Minimalism and Organic Abstraction (sculpture).
The Collection Reviewed: In the galleries most of the Hirshhorn's holdings are presented under this title, currently designating two long-term floor-wide installations:"The Collection Reviewed: Modern Art" and "The Collection Reviewed: Contemporary Art" and rotating educational shows in a second-floor gallery.
Metro Station: L'Enfant Plaza (Smithsonian Museums exit)
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