Washington, D.C. Sights



Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Review

Conceived as the nation's museum of modern and contemporary art, the Hirshhorn is home to nearly 12,000 works by masters who include Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Willem de Kooning, as well as contemporary superstars Damien Hirst and Olafur Eliasson. The art is displayed in a round 1974 poured-concrete building designed by Gordon Bunshaft, dubbed the "Doughnut on the Mall" when it was built. Most of the collection was bequeathed by the museum's founder, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a Latvian immigrant who made his fortune in uranium mines.


The internationally renowned sculpture collection has masterpieces by Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and Constantin Brancusi. Outside, sculptures dot a grass-and-granite garden. Among them is a 32-foot-tall yellow cartoon brush-stroke sculpture by pop-art iconographer Roy Lichtenstein that has become a beloved local landmark. Among other works are Jeff Koons's Kiepenkerl and Auguste Rodin's Burghers of Calais.

Inside, the third level is the place to see masterworks from the museum's permanent collection, such as Alexander Calder's intriguing mobiles, Joan Miró's whimsical dreamscapes, and Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.

The second level houses exhibits that rotate about three times a year, curated by museum staff and devoted to particular artists or themes.

The lower level houses thematic installations featuring recent and experimental works from the permanent collection, as well as the Black Box, a space for moving image installations by international artists.


The sculpture garden makes an inspiring spot for a picnic.

Docents lead impromptu 30-minute tours between noon and 4. Every Friday at 12:30 there is a free gallery talk and tour focusing on a current exhibition.

Have a question? Seek out the museum's Interpretive Guides, who wear question-mark badges.

Teens should check out the ArtLab, a design studio where they can experiment with new technology and learn digital-media techniques.

About three times a year, to coincide with a major installation, the museum hosts Hirshhorn After Hours events: parties that last until midnight and feature performance art, live music, dancing, and gallery talks.

The museum regularly screens independent and experimental films.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Independence Ave. and 7th St. SW, The Mall Washington, DC 20013 | Map It
  • Phone: 202/633–2829
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Museum daily 10–5:30, sculpture garden daily 7:30–dusk
  • Website:
  • Metro Smithsonian or L'Enfant Plaza (Maryland Ave. exit).
  • Location: The Mall
Updated: 06-05-2013

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    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Review

    This museum is often overlooked by families visiting DC with young children in favor of the "Big Three:" Air & Space, Natural History, and American History, but has enough whimsical art (plus an outdoor sculpture garden for burning off a little museum overload) to amuse the entire family.

    by fourfortravel, 11/22/09

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