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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
art museum in Washington, D.C.
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
art museum in Washington, D.C.
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Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
Washington, District Of Columbia
United States

ebrowne's picture

Contributor

The Hirshhorn Museum in our nation’s capitol is kiiiind of a Guggenheim Museum knock-off but we’ll let it slide.

Though it is very Guggenheim-esque, it does have a bananas art collection. But that doesn’t mean that critics weren’t completely brutal when commenting on the design of the building. Ada Louise Huxtable from the New York Times wrote, “[The building] is known around Washington as the bunker or gas tank, lacking only gun emplacements or an Exxon sign… It totally lacks the essential factors of esthetic strength and provocative vitality that make genuine ‘brutalism’ a positive and rewarding style.” Ouch. Good thing Joseph H Hirshhorn, the museum’s namesake, could deflect that burn with his millions upon millions of dollars. 

Joseph H Hirshhorn was just a wee six-year-old when he emigrated to America from Latvia. He was a stockbroker on Wall Street by the time he was 17 and a millionaire by the time he was 29. Not too shabby. He also pulled all of his money out of the stock market two months before the crash in 1929, which borders on wizardry or maybe insider trading. 

But he wasn’t always a total straight-shooter. Hirshhorn had some sketchy dealings in Canada. “He was investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission, convicted twice of breaking Canadian foreign exchange laws, deported from Canada for illegal stock manipulation (which he later appealed and won by having himself declared a landed immigrant), and fined for an illegal securities sale and illegally smuggling cash out of Canada.” But he paid it forward and put all of his dirty money into the art world eventually donating 6,000 works to the United States Government, who created the Hirshhorn Museum. Making money illegally isn’t wrong if you do cool stuff with it right? 

And the Hirshhorn Museum is full of nothing but cool stuff. It houses paintings and sculptures from all of the modern and contemporary greats. It’s a collection that the Guerrilla Girls would hate on for sure, but it’s still pretty amazing. 

Sources

Sources

  1. "History Of The Hirshhorn Museum | Smithsonian". Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden | Smithsonian. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
  2. "Joseph Hirshhorn". En.wikipedia.org. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
  3. Burnham, Sophy, 1973, The Art Crowd, New York: David McKay Company.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the United States. The museum was initially endowed during the 1960s with the permanent art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. It was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was conceived as the United States' museum of contemporary and modern art and currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years.

The Hirshhorn is sited halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, anchoring the southernmost end of the so-called L'Enfant axis (perpendicular to the Mall's green carpet). The National Archives/National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden across the Mall, and the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian American Art building several blocks to the north, also mark this pivotal axis, a key element of both the 1791 city plan by Pierre L'Enfant and the 1901 MacMillan Plan.

The building itself is an attraction, an open cylinder elevated on four massive "legs," with a large fountain occupying the central courtyard. Before architect Gordon Bunshaft designed the building, the Smithsonian staff reportedly told him that, if it did not provide a striking contrast to everything else in the city, then it would be unfit for housing a modern art collection.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.