Learn about the Hirshhorn building and explore our Sculpture Garden. You’ll find images of the Museum building and a map for the Sculpture Garden with suggested art stops.
For accessibility information, check out the Smithsonian accessibility map.
Welcome to the Hirshhorn!
The Hirshhorn was completed in 1974 and it’s under construction again today. The architect who designed the Museum and Sculpture Garden was named Gordon Bunshaft. It took Bunshaft and his team five years to finish constructing the building.
Start at the inner courtyard beside the lobby. Walk through the middle of the Hirshhorn.
(Yes, we really mean through the middle!)
Look at the building. What shape is it? You might see a circle with a hole in the middle, or even say it looks like a donut or bagel.
Can you find all four of the building’s legs? Notice how they elevate the building, lifting it off the ground. Architect Gordon Bunshaft wanted the Museum to look like a giant sculpture. Do you think he achieved his goal?
Imagine you’re an architect. If you were going to design a building to be like a sculpture, what would your design look like?
Walk toward the National Mall to Jefferson Ave
Walk around the courtyard, around the fountain of the Museum toward Jefferson Ave and emerge from beneath the Museum building. Look back at the Museum and the artwork wrapping (all 829 feet!) around the building.
Choose one of the faces to look at. What do you notice? Describe the colors and the facial expression.
This installation artwork is called Draw the Curtain. An installation is usually a large artwork, often with many different parts that are set up in a place. Swiss artist Nicolas Party originally made this artwork with soft pastel on paper. He then photographed the pastels and digitally collaged the photographs together. The completed Draw the Curtain work has more than 100 pieces of fabric that were installed by construction workers on the outside of the Museum while the building undergoes repairs.
Head towards the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden is on the National Mall, halfway between the United States Capitol and the Washington Monument. Originally, the Garden was designed to have a reflecting pool that extended all the way across the Mall. The design you see was chosen instead!
The Hirshhorn is getting ready to redesign the Sculpture Garden with the help of artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, who redesigned the Hirshhorn’s Lobby and Café in 2018. One idea Sugimoto has is to re-open a tunnel that connects the Garden to the Plaza under the street! Would you want to travel through the tunnel? Why or why not?
Step under an artwork that moves
Are Years What? (For Marianne Moore), by Mark Di Suvero
What’s big, red, and swaying in the wind? Find that large sculpture and walk around it. Notice how it moves. How do you think it works? If you could make your own moving sculpture, what materials would you use?
Dance and drum
The Drummer, by Barry Flanagan
Find the happy hare at the bottom of the steps. Pose your body like the sculpture. What is the hare holding in its paws? It’s a drum! Imagine you are drumming. Bring your pose to life and drum through the Garden. What kind of music are you making?
Whisper your wishes to the Wish Tree
Wish Tree for Washington, DC, by Yoko Ono
Take some quiet time at this tree that also happens to be an artwork. Have you ever really wanted something? What do you wish for? Talk together and then whisper your wishes to the tree. Can you stand like a tree? Try standing upright or waving in the wind.
Step inside an artwork
For Gordon Bunshaft, by Dan Graham
At the bottom of the Sculpture Garden, find the structure made of wood and mirrored glass. Step inside and let your eyes wander. You might’ve noticed your reflection in the mirrored glass! Step outside and look for your reflection there. How is your reflection different inside and out?
Meet a traveler from far, far away
We Come In Peace, by Huma Bhaba
Note to Adults: This work includes nudity.
Walk over to the gigantic pink and blue sculpture. What if this sculpture came to life? Come up with a story about where this sculpture would live and what it would like to do. Do you like this sculpture? Why or why not?
Post Balzac, by Judith Shea
Find the sculpture that looks like an empty coat. What’s missing? The person inside! Who do you think would wear this coat? Talk together. Imagine what the person who would wear this coat might be like.
Extend the fun at home!
Keep kids of all ages (or the kid at heart) engaged and interested in exploring art and making with unique hands-on projects inspired by your favorite Hirshhorn artworks.
Bake Your Own Mini-Hirshhorn! (Challenge: Can you create a Nicolas Party-inspired wrap for your cake?)