Editors' pick

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden - Smithsonian Institution

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden - Smithsonian Institution photo
Smithsonian Institution
This palace of contemporary art mounts challenging shows in its doughnut-shaped exhibition space.
Daily 10 am-5:30 pm Sculpture Garden: 7:30 am to dusk (Closed Christmas)
(The Mall)
Smithsonian (Blue and Orange lines), L'Enfant Plaza (Blue, Orange, Green and Yellow lines)

Editorial Review

The Buzz: The museum, which opened to the public in 1974, exhibits some of the finest examples of modern and contemporary art both inside its circular building and outside, in its sunken sculpture garden. Since the original 1960s donation by collector Joseph Hirshhorn, the collection has more than doubled in size to include nearly 12,000 pieces.

The Collections: The Hirshhorn exhibits a wide spectrum of work by modern masters: sculpture from Auguste Rodin to Alberto Giacometti and painting from Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol. British bad boy Damien Hirst is represented here (although not with his infamous formaldehyde-preserved animal carcasses). New video work by emerging artists can be seen in the museum's Black Box space on the bottom floor.

Programs: A regular film series in its Ring Auditorium offers advance (and often exclusive) screenings from the best of international, independent and art-house cinema. Lunchtime and evening slide lectures by curators, scholars and exhibiting artists complement and shed light on the sometimes inscrutable work on display. The museum ventures into the nightlife scene with Hirshhorn After Hours -- occasional evening programs that combine mingling, art viewing and dancing with a cash bar.

Extras: The museum has a gift shop.

Have a plan: Stop by the lobby’s information desk between noon and 4 p.m. for a spur-of-the-moment 30-minute tour. More planning is required for the museum’s popular Hirshhorn: After Hours events, which feature tours and live music, art performances and cocktails outside on the plaza about three times a year. The $25 tickets are available a month in advance and sell out quickly.

(Updated March 9, 2012)