Art in a Donut Building: Hirshhorn Museum

On the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden draws art lovers and culture seekers alike. One of the museum’s standout features is its outdoor Sculpture Garden, where larger-than-life works by renowned artists dot the landscape. Stroll the pathways and marvel at the striking sculptures in this peaceful garden retreat.

As you step inside, you will find a dynamic lineup of exhibitions that push the boundaries of creativity and expression. From thought-provoking sculptures to immersive installations, there’s always something new and exciting to discover at the Hirshhorn.

Right across the National Mall is the National Sculpture Garden!

Iconic Building

Architect Gordon Bunshaft of the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill conceived the museum’s distinctive “donut” design. Completed in 1974, the building departed from traditional museum architecture. Its unique design creates a unique and innovative space for displaying modern and contemporary art.

The circular shape of the building was chosen for several reasons. First, it allows for a continuous gallery space without the need for interior support columns, providing flexibility for curators to arrange exhibitions and display large-scale artworks. Additionally, the design creates a sense of fluidity and movement, enhancing the visitor experience as they navigate through the museum.

Aesthetically, the building’s circular form is visually striking, standing out amidst the angular architecture of the surrounding National Mall. The smooth, concrete exterior contrasts with the lush greenery of the adjacent Sculpture Garden.

Overall, the “donut” design showcases art and also serves as a work of art in its own right. Its bold and unconventional design reflects the spirit of innovation and experimentation that defines modern and contemporary art, making it a fitting home for the museum’s diverse and dynamic collection.

What to Expect at the Hirshhorn

Inside the museum, the excitement continues with a rotating lineup of exhibitions that showcase the best in modern and contemporary art. From established masters to up-and-coming talents, the Hirshhorn offers a diverse array of artworks that challenge, inspire, and provoke thought.

But the Hirshhorn isn’t just about admiring art from a distance—it’s also a place for engagement and exploration. The museum offers regular events, talks and educational programs. Visitors can also dive deeper into the world of contemporary art and connect with artists, curators, and fellow art enthusiasts.

Come for the art, stay for the experience, and leave with a newfound appreciation for the power of creativity and expression!

Know Before You Go

The closest Metro stations to the National Sculpture Garden are the Federal Triangle Metro station, located on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines; the Archives/Navy Memorial station on the Green and Yellow lines; and Smithsonian Station. There is exceptionally limited parking on the street. The museum is free.

Getting there: The Hirshhorn is located on the National Mall at Independence Ave SW &, 7th St SW, Washington, DC
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., including holidays with the exception of December 25
Website: Hirshhorn Museum

Check out other attractions on the National Mall in the articles below:

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Do you enjoy art outside? Check out these sculpture gardens!