Hirshhorn Museum honors former interim director Brougher in Oscar-themed send-off


Doug Aitken, “SONG 1,” 2012 (conceptual rendering). (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden)

The Oscar-themed send-off party for Kerry Brougher, former interim director and chief curator of the Hirshhorn Museum who begins as director of the new Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum in Los Angeles next month,featured its own Oscar-worthy moment. A surprise resolution, unanimously approved by the Hirshhorn board, dedicated Doug Aitken’s multimedia piece “Song 1,”to Brougher in recognition of more than 13 years of service. From now on, language honoring Brougher will be included each time the piece is shown.

“Song 1” is regarded as one of the most significant items in the museum’s nearly 12,000-piece collection and its 2012 projection onto the museum’s outer walls is regarded as a triumph in contemporary art.

“As a curator, he organized a dozen major exhibitions that significantly enhanced the Hirshhorn’s reputation on an international scale — from substantial single-artist shows of such pivotal figures as Ed Ruscha, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Yves Klein and Ai Weiwei to expansive thematic explorations like Open City, Visual Music, The Cinema Effect, and Damage Control that compelled visitors to look at art and the larger world with a fresh perspective,” the resolution read. “As curator for Doug Aitken’s SONG1, he helped turn the museum inside out and redefine the impact art could have on the landscape of a city.”

The tribute last week at the Washington home of longtime board member and former board chairman Robert Lehrman and his wife Aimee “was a really emotional moment for everybody who was there,” says Dan Sallick, treasurer of the Hirshhorn board. “Kerry has dedicated an incredible amount of energy, time and thoughtfulness into the Hirshhorn. He’s taken the museum leaps and bounds into the future and helped make the Hirshhorn a pioneer in new media and video art. The dedication of one of the most powerful and memorable pieces of the Hirshhorn collection perfectly sums up how we all feel about him.”

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