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2004 | 45 | 162-169

Article title

SCULPTURE GAREDN AS SUBSTANTIAL PART OF HIRSHHORN MUSEUM. MUSEUM OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (Ogród z rzezbami - .. Muzeum Hirshhorna. Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej i Wspólczesnej Smithsonian Institution)

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The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution has been open to the public since 1974. It is located on the National Mall in Washington DC, the capitol of the United States. Its location is very significant because it is exactly halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol. The museum is named after Joseph Hirshhorn (1899-1981), an immigrant from Latvia, who became a financier, philanthropist, and well-known American collector of modern art. His gift and bequest of more than 10 000 artworks, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed-media pieces, form the art collection of the Hirshhorn Museum. The museum was designed in 1966 by architect Gordon Bunshaft from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. It consists of two major parts - a cylindrical building and a separate sculpture garden. The first project of the garden included a large rectangular reflecting pool, but the plan was changed. In the new plan, the garden was much smaller, it was four metres below street level, and divided the garden into terraces at several levels. The open spaces, simple walls, and use of pebbles create a dramatic yet contemplative effect, like that of a Zen Buddhist 'dry' garden. After some time, several problems were noticed with the design of the garden. Walking on the garden's pebbled surface was difficult, the lack of shade was evident during the hot summers, and there was no wheelchair or baby-stroller access. Redesigns of the sculpture garden in 1981 and the plaza in 1993 increased the accessibility to the garden and enhanced the placement of new sculptures within additional greenery. The Hirshhorn Museum gained its international reputation due to the collection exhibited in the sculpture garden. This small area presents comprehensive history of the evolution of modern sculpture. The garden contains a variety of works from artists from around the world. For thirty years the museum held various exhibitions and developed innovative programs including 'touch tours' for visitors who are blind. During the summer, frequent music festivals were held. The museums web site - www.hirshhorn.si.edu - extends the reach of the museum by providing interactive activities, the history of the Hirshhorn, a searchable collection database, and updated exhibition information. Several historic gardens presented religious and political sculptures. Contemporary sculpture gardens contain new and modern sculptures. There are three basic types of these gardens: gardens that contain one artist's work, gardens that are part of a museum's collection, and gardens that are museums in themselves, commonly called 'Open-Air Museums'. The Hirshhorn followed the new contemporary style of displaying sculptures in a garden and created the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Several museums, universities, businesses and governments have followed suit, and have created outdoor exhibitions dedicated primarily to sculpture. Sculpture parks and gardens are becoming more common and are quickly gaining popularity.







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  • Aleksandra M. Dittwald, address not given, contact the journal editor


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