Hirshhorn’s New Do: Proposed Bookstore by Doug Aitken


The Hirshhorn Museum in DC — institution of the three Hs and a spiffy new rebranding — has proposed the next step in its director’s master plan to Shake Things Up and Make It Relevant. Blake Gopnik for the Washington Post reports that Hirshhorn director Richard Koshalek has pitched installation artist Doug Aitken to imagine a new museum shop. Based on the directive to make “architecture out of light,” Aitken’s proposal (barely out of the planning stages) would require moving the the bookstore into the basement, away from its current position at the building’s entrance. Illuminating the space would be a “broad shaft pierced through the museum’s Independence Avenue forecourt, bringing natural illumination” into what Aitken calls a “really oppressive basement.” (True, but what will be done with the Black Box Gallery video space?) Peep the initial rendering after the jump.

Notably, Koshalek last spearheaded a novel re-look for the museum in December 2009, with what Modern Art Notes critic Tyler Green termed a “bulbous membrane.” The proposed $5 million balloon expansion by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro set off a flurry of strong reactions ranging from outrage to downright hilarity.

However, both the Aitken project and the temporary dome demonstrate Koshalek’s enthusiasm for turning the Hirshhorn back into a dynamic art space. Quoted in the Washington Post, the director — who was appointed to the head position one short year ago — explains, “We want to turn the symbolic center of the Hirshhorn into a center for international dialogue. The issues are going to be very broad, so we can attract a pluralistic audience. It’s also going to be based on very strong partnerships and collaborative efforts.”

Bonus link: Tyler Green again, this time with an exclusive on the Hirshhorn’s upcoming acquisitions. Squeal!