The sculpture garden of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum will be renovated for the first time since the 1980s under new designs by Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto, the museum announced on Monday. Sugimoto formerly redesigned the lobby of the rotund museum building, which stands on the National Mall and showcases modern art.
The sculpture garden, which currently features works by Auguste Rodin, Jimmie Durham, and Yoko Ono, is largely out of sight of the Mall and the museum entrance. The Hirshhorn says Sugimoto’s “early concept” for the redesign would make the garden more accessible to the Mall and also “create spaces for large-scale contemporary works and performances.” His plans would reopen an underground passage that connects the garden to the museum plaza but has been shuttered for three decades. Gordon Bunshaft originally designed the museum.
“This project creates a ‘front door’ for the Hirshhorn on the National Mall,” Hirshhorn board chair Dan Sallick said in a statement. The announcement follows two years of planning, says the museum. The garden is about 1.5 acres large and a public meeting on the project will be held at the museum before plans are sent to the National Capital Planning Commission and Commission of Fine Arts, says the Hirshhorn, which saw more than 1 million visitors in 2017.
The Hirshhorn opened in 1974, and the garden received its last major update in 1981. “The plan recognizes the shifts in art-making in the 40-odd years since we were founded,” Melissa Chiu, the museum’s director, explained to the Washington Post. “Many artists create work on a larger scale, and we want to create a space for performance and other interactive work.”