The Hirshhorn Museum’s Blue Bubble Plans Move Forward


At a conference on livable communities yesterday, Richard Koshalek, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. said Diller, Scofidio + Renfro‘s 145-foot-tall sky-blue bubble will inflate itself out of the Hirshhorn’s central plaza by October 2012. The bubble, however, is just one piece in an ambitious new plan for “curating public spaces” within and without, and even beyond, the museum.

The lobby of the museum will be completely redone as a “classroom of the future” that will include “smart furniture and smart environments” for teaching about the role of art in contemporary culture. The current book store will be moved downstairs and nestle among the art, where it will get a new skylight that will provide some sun. “It will be the first bookstore that is part of a museum’s permanent collection,” said Koshalek.

The bubble that will inflate up out of the central plaza and over the top of the building will provide a “seasonal pavilion” in May and October and space for an “educational, cultural and research forum.” Four programs are in the works, including the first on international cultural diplomacy (to be produced with the Council on Foreign Relations); a second one on open-source technology or how technology drives our culture (to be developed with the MacArthur Foundation); a third on “art and destruction, a common theme throughout history” (to be developed with Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study); and the last one on the world of animation, which will feature commissioned works from leading animators. Koshalek argued that these fora need to be “interdisciplinary because that’s how the Museum can reach a broader audience.”

The program on animation will extend beyond the museum and include works to be staged around the National Mall. “The projects for the National Mall will redefine what a cultural institution can do” in Washington, D.C.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Museum will need $15 million for the plans, including a $5 million endowment, but Bloomberg has already ponied up $1 million and there’s another $1.5 million from the Pearson Foundation, Nokia, and the MacArthur Foundation. In addition to raising the funds, Koshalek will need to navigate the web of organizations that have a voice in National Mall matters.

See images of the bubble.

Image credit: Diller, Scofidio + Renfro / DCist

One thought on “The Hirshhorn Museum’s Blue Bubble Plans Move Forward

  1. Glenn Dixon 09/28/2010 / 10:29 am

    Just to be clear, the Bubble will be installed twice a year, in the spring and the fall, for at least a month each time. It will not, however, be up from May through October uninterrupted.

    Glenn Dixon
    Web Content Producer and Editor
    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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