Smithsonian Institution

★★★★★

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Arts & Entertainment
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Smithsonian American Art Museum

301 7th St Se Washington, D.C.

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National Gallery of Art

401 Constitution Ave NW Washington, D.C.

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The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one the most aesthetically appealing of the Smithsonian's many amazing museums. Dedicated to modern art, it offers a series of tantalizing glimpses into the collective genius that has created the remarkably diverse and innovative world of modern artistic expression.

The building itself is shaped like a huge "O," with the exterior galleries bound by solid stone walls with no windows and the interior galleries bound by glass walls that maximize the benefits of natural light. Smaller sculptures by such artists as Rodin, Moore, Picasso, and Degas find a perfect home these inner galleries filled with ambient light. Canvases and mixed-media works by such masters as Matisse, Pollock, Rothko, and Rauschenberg are housed in the exterior galleries.

In general, the round shape of the building provides all the galleries with pathways that are easier to travel and require less backtracking. "Art in the Round" seems to offer what is more truly a natural means of access. In the final analysis, the very design of this building is one of the most outstanding and utilitarian of the objects de art on display at the Hirschhorn.

The museum's plaza and sculpture garden should not be overlooked because they house the permanent collection's larger, more monumental pieces. Here visitors find stabiles by Calder, Rodin's remarkable Burghers of Calais, Epstein's The Visitation, and works by Giacometti and de Rivera. Several of these pieces (including one of my personal favorites, Snelson's Tower) almost require viewer participation--extending an invitation to wander around, under, or through the spaces these pieces inhabit.

Like all the Smithsonian's museum's, this one is free. Unlike many of the others, the crowds are usually manageable even during peak seasons--in part because of the design of the building and in part because the museum appeals to more specialized interests.

PROS: Modern Art, in all its diversity and innovative genius
CONS: Modern Art, in all its perplexity

5
★★★★★

The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one the most aesthetically appealing of the Smithsonian's many amazing museums. Dedicated to modern art, it offers a series of tantalizing glimpses into the collective genius that has created the remarkably diverse and innovative world of modern artistic expression.

The building itself is shaped like a huge "O," with the exterior galleries bound by solid stone walls with no windows and the interior galleries bound by glass walls that maximize the benefits of natural light. Smaller sculptures by such artists as Rodin, Moore, Picasso, and Degas find a perfect home these inner galleries filled with ambient light. Canvases and mixed-media works by such masters as Matisse, Pollock, Rothko, and Rauschenberg are housed in the exterior galleries.

In general, the round shape of the building provides all the galleries with pathways that are easier to travel and require less backtracking. "Art in the Round" seems to offer what is more truly a natural means of access. In the final analysis, the very design of this building is one of the most outstanding and utilitarian of the objects de art on display at the Hirschhorn.

The museum's plaza and sculpture garden should not be overlooked because they house the permanent collection's larger, more monumental pieces. Here visitors find stabiles by Calder, Rodin's remarkable Burghers of Calais, Epstein's The Visitation, and works by Giacometti and de Rivera. Several of these pieces (including one of my personal favorites, Snelson's Tower) almost require viewer participation--extending an invitation to wander around, under, or through the spaces these pieces inhabit.

Like all the Smithsonian's museum's, this one is free. Unlike many of the others, the crowds are usually manageable even during peak seasons--in part because of the design of the building and in part because the museum appeals to more specialized interests.

PROS: Modern Art, in all its diversity and innovative genius
CONS: Modern Art, in all its perplexity

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