Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn concept for revitalized Sculpture Garden approved

The Hirshhorn’s concept for a revitalized Sculpture Garden has been approved. The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has conceived a new space to enhance the visitor experience with art and programmes.

The concept, designed by architect and artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, has been approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).

This follows last month’s support of the Hirshhorn’s plans from the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). The museum will now prepare to move the project into the design development phase.

“The plans we have developed with artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto are the result of a thoughtful process over the last two years, involving input from dozens of important stakeholders,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn Director.

“A truly 21st-century art experience”

Hirshhorn museum

“Sugimoto has studied the Sculpture Garden’s history and has carefully considered every aspect of how visitors will experience the revitalized garden. We look forward to moving to the next phases of planning, as we continue to receive public feedback.”

Sugimoto’s concept will revitalize the Sculpture Garden for the 21st century while embracing the Hirshhorn’s architectural heritage, drawing on architect Gordon Bunshaft’s original designs, as well as a later intervention by landscape architect Lester Collins.

The Hirshhorn will be able to accommodate 50% more of its collection of 19th- and 20th-century modern masterpieces. Sugimoto has also created a design for the cutting-edge art of today and the future, with flexible spaces for sculpture and performance.

“The reimagined Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden will provide visitors from Washington and around the world greater access to the garden from the National Mall and a truly 21st-century art experience,” said Daniel Sallick, Hirshhorn Board Chair.

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden’s new spaces and galleries

  • The East Gallery – A series of interconnected outdoor galleries for rotating exhibitions of the Hirshhorn’s collection of modern sculptures.
  • The West Gallery – An open lawn that will provide flexible space for contemporary art, including interactive installations, public programming and monumental sculpture.
  • Reflecting Pool and Performance Area – A shallow pool in the central garden serving as a focal point for visitor engagement and reflection. Sugimoto’s concept features a performance stage and shaded amphitheater seating – a venue for the performative arts, including music, dance and participatory art.
  • Entrances and Overlooks – A more visible north entrance that will create a second ‘front door’ to the museum from the National Mall, with additional ramps creating multiple accessible entry points to the Sculpture Garden. Artworks positioned around the perimeter will encourage flow between the Sculpture Garden and the museum.
  • Reimagined Underground Passage – A re-opening of the underground passage, a key element of Bunshaft’s design that has been closed since the 1980s, providing a pedestrian connection between the Sculpture Garden and museum plaza below Jefferson Drive.

Image: The Smithsonian