Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

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Critics' pick
© Lee Stalsworth
Free

This spectacular, aggressively modern cylindrical building by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill enlivens the predominantly neoclassical architecture lining the Mall. The purpose of the structure, which was completed in 1974, was to house self-made Wall Street millionaire Joseph Hirshhorn’s collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture. The museum now presents art in a range of media, including works on paper, painting, installation, photography, sculpture, digital and video art. SOM’s chief architect, Gordon Bunshaft, has created a three-story hollow concrete drum supported on four curvilinear piers. In keeping with the modernist tradition, there is no ceremonial entrance, only a utilitarian revolving door (strictly speaking there are two, but usually only one is in use).
Third-level galleries house works from the permanent collection. These include a significant Giacometti collection, the largest public collection of works by Thomas Eakins outside the artist’s native Philadelphia, works by Arshile Gorky and Clyfford Still and a pair of Willem de Kooning’s rare "door paintings" (the museum has the largest public collection of his work in the world).
On the second level are rotating exhibitions. These might explore the work of a particular artist, or a theme. The basement galleries house large-scale installations, often recent acquisitions, and rotating moving-image artwork in the museum’s "Black Box." The museum also offers the well-regarded Directions series, spotlighting emerging or cutting-edge artists.
The Sculpture Garden is located on the side of the gallery facing the National Mall, across Jefferson Drive. It has works by Rodin, Matisse, Koons, Calder and more, set amid green space and a reflecting pool.

Venue name: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
Contact:
Address: Independence Avenue, SW
Mall & Tidal Basin
Washington, DC

Cross street: 7th Street
Opening hours: Museum 10am–5.30m daily. Plaza 7.30am–5.30pm daily. Sculpture Garden 7.30am–dusk daily
Transport: L’Enfant Plaza Metro
Price: Admission free
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