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The Do DC with Kids guide to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Art

The Do DC with Kids guide to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

I often find modern art to be initially challenging and then delightful. Having frequent trips to a museum that pulls you out of your day-to-day routine by way of art is a real treat. Ooey and I spend alot of time at the Hirshhorn and I welcome you to do the same. Let your child be your “tour guide” or have a coffee outside near the fountain or explore their sculpture gardens. I promise it will be a good time.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the museum of modern and contemporary art in the Smithsonian System. Since we’ve lived here they’ve had some mind blowing exhibits like Ragnar Kjartansson’s Woman in E and Yayoi Kusama’s infinity Mirrors that drew record crowds. I’ve always been sad to see the temporary exhibits go,  live performance art and infinity mirrored rooms are a treat for  mommy/daughter outings. But the Hirshhorn continuously delivers.

Yayoi Kusama at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC

An Infinity Mirrored room during the Yayoi Kusama exhibit.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Looking up at the Hirshhorn, this museum is anything but square.

The Hirshhorn opened in 1974 after entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph H. Hirshhorn donated his collection of modern art to the United States Government. The 60,000 square foot building was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft. The sculpture garden is in the adjacent four-acre plot of land.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Did I mention that Melissa Chiu has amazing shoes?

The current director of the museum, Melissa Chiu, began in 2014 and inherited the museum at a low point. The former director had resigned after a failed project and many board members had left in his wake. In 2015 she held the museum’s annual fundraiser in New York, much to the consternation of DC natives. It was seen as a strategy to advance her career rather than the networking move that it was. She pulled in $1 million with that fundraiser, four times what a gala in DC would yield. Her success at the Hirshhorn has continued with the Kusama exhibit, the Dolcezza pop-up and the revitalized energy of staff and visitors. During Chiu’s tenure the museum has hired more staff and it’s safe to that programming for families has been the beneficiary.

STORYTIME+

The Hirshhorn hosts a weekly story time every Wednesday at 10am. The story time usually lasts an hour  and includes a kid friendly tour of an exhibit, a story and a craft. Children are encouraged to participate by sharing their opinions of a work of art during the mini exhibit talk.

STORYTIME+ schedule for 2017

STORYTIME+ will continue on Wednesday, July 12th– Wednesday, July 26th at 10am, as usual. Stay tuned for an updated schedule.

There will be no STORYTIME during the month of August; we will return again in September!

Family friendly days

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

If you hear of a family day at the Hirshhorn, you must go! We’ve now gone to two family friendly events at the Hirshhorn and the activities take over the outdoor patio and fill the lobby and halls. In our most recent adventure to the museum during a family friendly day the DC Listening Lounge invited kids of all ages to explore a range of activities. Children could play instruments at the musical petting zoo or make a wind chime out of recycled materials and even listen to the solar system.

At a family day this past winter celebrating Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirrors staff created replicas of her most popular works. Children could decorate a giant orchid with polka dot stickers or step inside a box mimicking an infinity room. Tiny infinity rooms were available for children to manipulate. The public outreach provided to local families by the museum is truly top-notch and engaging. 

Exhibits

Currently

Yoko Ono: Four Works for Washington and the World June 17th-September 17th

Ono’s works at the Hirshhorn include participatory pieces like the Wish Tree For Washington DC  and My Mommy is Beautiful. Both pieces offer visitors a way to express feelings of gratitude and hope to be left behind for public viewing. The wish tree celebrates it’s 1oth year at the museum, both works are fun to add too and read from.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Ooey also scribbled out a wish!

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Tell the world something about your mother in this participatory celebration of motherhood.

Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn June 28th-January 1st 2018

Ai Weiwei is not a master of any one medium but selects his materials based on his current project. Weiwei has himself been detained for his political activism in his home country of China. Trace originally made its debut at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Fransisco.

Trace is a collection of 176 portraits of people who have sought asylum, been detained or exiled for their ideologies. The portraits are made of legos, the medium inspired by those that Weiwei’s son played with. Additionally Weiwei says that legos, like our freedoms are quickly dismantled.

Included in the exhibit is a wallpaper designed by Ai Weiwei entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. The design includes security cameras and the twitter logo- a shout out to the tweets his government was not so fond of.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Biographies of the people within the portraits can be found on a computer database in every room.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca

Public programs for Trace

Film
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Sunday, July 23 and Sunday, Dec.17, 2 p.m.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the inside story of a dissident of the digital age who inspires global
audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. Against a backdrop of strict censorship
and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through
art and social media. First -time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while
working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of
contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.
Ai Weiwei Selects Film Series
Join the museum for a cinematic series featuring recent films from China’s New Documentary Film Movement. Using various techniques, these films tirelessly investigate social issues and the filmmakers’ relationship with
established political order in China.
Disturbing the Peace (2009) By Ai Weiwei
Sunday, Oct.15, 2 p.m.
Shot on a handheld camera, the Ai Weiwei studio production “Disturbing the Peace” is a
documentary discussing incidents during Tan Zuoren’s trial on August 12, 2009.
A civil rights advocate who investigated the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that resulted in the
deaths of hundreds of students, Zuoren was subsequently imprisoned.
When the Bough Breaks (2013) by Ji Dan
Sunday, Nov.12, 2 p.m.
From director Ji Dan, one of China’s preeminent female filmmakers, When the Bough Breaks
at once explores the particular dynamics of one family and exposes the widespread difficulties faced by migrants living at the margins of Chinese society from director Ji Dan, one of China’s preeminent female filmmakers.
Petition(2009) by Zhao Liang
Sunday, Dec. 10, 2 p.m.
A documentary following Chinese citizens as they petition the government.
Lectures and Conversations
Lecture and Book Signing
The Big Picture: Matthew Israel
Saturday, Sep. 16, 2 p.m.
Artsy curator-at-large and art historian Matthew Israel explores ten of today’s most exciting contemporary artworks. Through his new publication, The Big Picture, Israel reveals the
fascinating stories behind each piece, while connecting them to larger social and artistic
contexts. Israel will dive into the work of Ai Weiwei, among others, to illustrate the magnificent,
but rapidly shifting global landscape of contemporary art in the twenty-first century.
Gallery Experiences
Installing Trace
Friday, Aug. 25, 12:30p.m.
Exhibition galleries
Hirshhorn exhibits specialist Stefan Gibson offers a “behind the scenes” glimpse into the planning and installation of
Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn.
Conserving Trace
Friday, Nov. 3, 12:30 p.m.
Hirshhorn chief conservator Gwynne Ryan discusses Ai Weiwei’s use of unconventional materials and the efforts taken to study and preserve Trace and Cube Light.

Also on display

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Sunrise, sunset. Nicolas Party

Other works currently on view are Nicolas Party’s sunrise sunset (through October 1st), Markus Lupertz’s exhibition Threads of History is on display until September 10th. The masterworks from the Hirshhorn Collection can be seen on the third floor until Sept 4th and Our View from Here by Linn Meyers will be painted over on August 13th. Belief and Doubt by Barbara Kruger will remain on display indefinitely and can be found on the bottom floor.

Coming

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Utopian Projects September 7th 2017-March 4th 2018

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment. Photo from the Hirshhorn website

This exhibition will feature over 20 works that have been made over the 30 year partnership between these two Russian artists. The work is in miniature and includes models and surreal scenes. This will be their second exhibition at the Hirshhorn and their newest work, The Ship of Tolerance, is being commissioned by the Vatican in Rome.

What Absence is Made Of October 19th, 2017- Summer 2019

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Photo from the Hirshhorn website

This collection of works from artists like Annette Lemieux, Ed Atkins and Huang Long Ping will focus on the theme of the tangible vs. intangible. This theme of the immaterial has become increasingly popular since the 1960’s.

Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge November 8th, 2017- November 12, 2018

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Photo from the Hirshhorn website

Pickett’s Charge will be a solo, site specific, exhibition by Mark Bradford. The work is to consume the entire inner ring of the third floor in a 360 degree experience. The final charge at the Battle of Gettysburg will be recreated as you’ve never seen it before.

The Message: New Media Works November 18th, 2017- February 2018

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

photo from the Hirshhorn Website

The Message brings together videos that explore the theme of human communication. The public lecture, the concert, the music video and even the online sex chat room are rethought in this cheeky medium.

Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980’s February 14th, 2017-May 13th 2018

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

photo from the Hirshhorn Website

Art as a branding tool by corporations and their products is explored in this exhibit as is the relationship between contemporary art and consumption.

Dining at the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

The art of Kelly Towles at the Dolcezza at the Hirshhorn.

While many of the major Smithsonian museums have sit down cafeterias the Hirshhorn is now home to a Dolcezza coffee stand. Another victory for Museum Director Melissa Chiu, the pop-up stand provides coffee, pastries and gelato that can be consumed in the outdoor courtyard. Dolcezza, if you are unaware, is an amazing local business born in DC that does gelato and coffee to perfection. The shop is within a shipping container, adorned by the artwork of local muralist, Kelly Towles. Open daily 9am-5:30pm

When & where

Daily from 10am-5:30pm (closed on Christmas)

Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W.

Washington DC

Nearest metro: L’Enfant plaza (Green, Yellow, Blue and Orange lines)

Tips

Lockers are available in the basement

The permanent collection contains nudity

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a Smithsonian Museum of Modern art in Washington DC. They offer many family friendly activities.

Ooey and her buddy are inspired to do yoga in the outdoor courtyard.

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