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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Exterior view of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with the sculpture garden in the foreground. Visitors are visible in the garden and on the ramp.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Interior view of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. There are two busts in the foreground and paintings can be seen in another gallery in the background.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
View of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Marino Marini's sculpture of a man on a horse is in the foreground.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Opening Exhibition

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Opening Exhibition

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Spotlight: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library

Smithsonian Institution Libraries
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was established in 1974 as a beacon of the art of our time. This year, the museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a series of exhibitions and projects drawn from and inspired by our expansive library collection including Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler Days of Endless Time, and Speculative Forms, featuring installations more »

Aristide Maillol's Nymph and Mallard Ducks Outside Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Annual Report, 1975 - Opposite the Title page

Visitors to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in June not only saw Aristide Maillol's Nymph but also this wild mallard duck, proudly swimming with her young. A pair of mallards surprisingly had made the garden their home.

Architectural History of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 1969

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Ewing, H., & Ballard, A. (2009). A guide to Smithsonian architecture. Washington: Smithsonian Books.

Groundbreaking for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden occurred in January, 1969, although legislation supporting a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art was passed as early as the 1930s. Latvian immigrant Joseph Hirshhorn donated his extensive modern art and sculpture collection, along with the funds to build the museum. Hirshhorn stated that he wanted to repay the United States for what it had done for him, afforded him opportunities that he would not have been afforded anywhere else in the world.

The modern building design was met with controversy from those who opposed a building on the National Mall that was so stark opposite the existing buildings. It stands on the site of the original Army Medical Museum.

The design of the Hirshhorn Building subscribes to the modern architecture notion that "form follows function." Architect Gordon Bunshaft was chosen to design the building, and being an art collected himself, he had ideas about how contemporary art should be displayed. Circulation and flow were very key elements in the design, as were interior, windowless galleries to display those works that are light sensitive.

The perfectly geometrical cylindrical building was built using precast concrete mixed with crushed pink granite. The building is elevated, sitting atop four large pillars thus leaving the large plaza open for displaying sculptures and for visitor enjoyment. The circular fountain that was installed became one of the museum's key features. There is only one window in the entire building, a panoramic view window that faces the National Mall.

The outdoor Sculpture Garden was envisioned in the plan since the beginning, presumably because Joseph Hirshhorn displayed most of his sculptures on the outside lawn of his Connecticut home. The museum opened to the public in 1974.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Featured in TORCH, July 1985

Statues displayed in the sunken Sculpture Garden of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG).

Progress shots of the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG).

Progress shots of the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG).

Construction progress on Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG).

Construction progress on Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Office of Printing and Photographic Services (OPPS) by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Progress shots of the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Office of Printing and Photographic Services (OPPS) by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Progress shots of the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Construction of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Requested from Office of Printing and Photographic Services (OPPS) by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Progress shots of the construction of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
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