You can’t miss the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It’s the only doughnut-shaped building on the National Mall and Washington, D.C.’s premiere destination for contemporary and modern art. The museum’s collection includes thousands of paintings, sculptures, photographs and video installations from some of the 20th century’s leading artists, including Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Alexander Calder. It is America’s second-most-visited modern and contemporary art museum, behind the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
After your tour of the galleries, walk across Jefferson Drive to the Hirshhorn’s sunken sculpture garden, where you’ll find masterpieces by Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin, a small reflecting pool and a nice retreat from the heat of the Mall. One renowned piece by Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, commemorates the siege of Calais, France, by the English during the Hundred Years’ War. The Calais city leaders depicted in the piece have volunteered to save the city by surrendering to the English. Rodin captures the moment when they face imminent death.
There are a several whimsical sculptures circling the museum as well, including Last Conversation Piece, a grouping of human figures with rounded bases—almost like punching bags—engaged in conversation, by Spanish artist Juan Muñoz.
Grab a sandwich or salad at the museum’s outdoor café, located in the central plaza, and enjoy the fountain view. And don’t forget to stop by the museum shop for an eclectic mix of kid’s toys, postcards and jewelry.
Serious art lovers might want to download one of the “Meet the Artist” podcasts available on the Hirshhorn web site, or join one of the free daily guided tours. Tours are every day at 12:30 and 3:30 PM, last 45 minutes, and are free and open to everyone. To join a tour, meet the Gallery Guides at the Information Desk in the Lobby. No reservations are necessary.
For more, visit hirshhorn.si.edu
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian)
Hours: The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 p.m. The sculpture garden is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to dusk. Closed Dec. 25.
Parking: Limited three-hour parking is available on Jefferson and Madison Drives; metered parking is available on 7th St. and Independence Ave. Commercial lots are south on Fourth Street.
Metrorail: Orange, Blue, Yellow and Green Line stops for L’Enfant Plaza; Orange and Blue Line stops for Smithsonian
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