Museum Talks | Washington, DC #3 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
For this Museum Series, we were joined by Associate Curator Anne Reeve from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The virtual talk highlights French art and culture at the Hirshhorn as well as the history of the museum’s sculpture garden built upon the founding collection of Joseph Hirshhorn.
The Hirshhorn Museum’s founding donor, Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899–1981), immigrated to New York from Latvia when he was six years old. His widowed mother settled with her children (Joseph was the twelfth of thirteen) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
When he was eighteen, Hirshhorn acquired his first works of art: two etchings by the sixteenth-century German artist Albrecht Dürer, purchased for $75 each. This acquisition marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for collecting art. In 1966, his gift to the nation of more than 12,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed-media pieces established his namesake museum on the National Mall.
Embedded on and in the National Mall, the Hirshhorn’s 1.5-acre Sculpture Garden is home to a rotating display of the museum’s outdoor art. Comprising nearly a quarter of Joseph Hirshhorn’s initial gift to the nation, sculpture was and remains a foundational element of the collection. Rotating displays highlight modern art history, from human-sized bronzes by some of the most important 20th century artists to emerging forms like performance, video, and time-based art.
Image: Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais,(1884-1889/cast 1953-1959), Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
The Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden tells the history of modern art, and so does its design. In 1974, Gordon Bunshaft drew inspiration from Japanese Zen gardens to highlight the nowness of modern art in the Hirshhorn’s outdoor galleries. In 1981, Lester Collins, a landscape architect similarly inspired by Japanese garden aesthetics, added elements of shade, seating, accessibility, and greenery.
Since then, artmaking has changed. The Hirshhorn is reimagining the garden for the 21st century. The Hirshhorn has commissioned Japanese-American artist-architect Hiroshi Sugimoto to revitalize our Sculpture Garden for new generations of artists and audiences for contemplative and engaging experiences.
Anne Reeve joined the Hirshhorn as Associate Curator in June 2018, where she curated an exhibition devoted to the work of Lee Ufan, which constituted the artist’s largest site-specific sculptural commission ever to be mounted in the United States. She is currently focused on curatorial projects associated with the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden’s revitalization plan, designed by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto and publicly unveiled in March 2019.
Before joining the Hirshhorn, Reeve worked for Glenstone, a private museum in Potomac MD, where she organized long-term presentations by artists On Kawara and Robert Gober in conjunction with a large-scale architectural expansion. She developed the accompanying catalogues Robert Gober and On Kawara, published on the occasion of the expansion’s opening in Fall 2018. At Glenstone she oversaw the permanent outdoor installation of the sound work FOREST (for a thousand years…) by Canadian artist duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller (2017); and contributed to the exhibitions Fred Sandback: Light, Space, Facts (2015-2016) and Peter Fischli and David Weiss (2013-2014).
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The Smithsonian Institution is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded on August 10, 1846, the institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. The Institution's 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and zoo include historical and architectural landmarks, mostly located in the District of Columbia.