During the intense peak of the pandemic in 2020, there wasn’t much for museums to do but put on some online programming and hope for the best. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., however, used the tumultuous period to expand their permanent collection.
Since late 2019, the institution has acquired 95 works from 60 artists, including pieces by Huma Bhabha, the Guerilla Girls, Yayoi Kusama, Zanele Muholi, Christina Quarles, Tschabalala Self, Lee Ufan, Dana Awartani, Amoako Boafo, Paul Chan, Jeffrey Gibson, Chuck Close, and Rachel Jones.
See a selection of works from the museum’s recent acquisitions below:
Amoako Boafo, Cobalt Blue Dress, 2020
A goal of the new acquisitions was to “broaden and diversify” the museum’s collection.
“The bulk of our collection comes from a single collector, Joseph Hirshhorn, and it’s our job to continue to expand upon and add more inclusivity to his collection, giving it a more global perspective and also highlighting voices that have long argued for greater visibility,” said Evelyn Hankins, Senior Curator at the Hirshhorn.
Rose B. Simpson, Countdown I, 2020
Rose B. Simpson, for example, is the first Native American woman to be represented in the collection. Her work Countdown 1 (2020) is an armless, footless sculpture of a person made with epoxy, cement, string, leather, and metal that is inspired by the strong ceramic tradition of the Pueblo tribe she comes from.
Zanele Muholi, Misiwe, Bijlmer, Amsterdam, 2017
The Museum opened a new exhibit, “Put it This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection,” which features 49 female and nonbinary artists, which includes Niki de Saint Phalle, the Guerrilla Girls and Agnes Martin. Hankins said the show wouldn’t be possible without the recent acquisitions.
Emily Mae Smith, Unruly Thread, 2019
“This exhibition was a real opportunity to showcase a lot of new acquisitions. There are 22 works in that show that are all new acquisitions,” said Hankins.”So for us, it’s not only about acquiring the works, but finding ways to share them with our audiences.”
Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation, 2016
Another work acquired by the museum is Sondra Perry’s Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation (2016), a nine-minute video work attached to a stationary bicycle. Perry’s interdisciplinary works, like Graft and Ash investigate the interplay of race, gender, and technology.
Liz Deschenes, Untitled (LeWitt) #1, 2016
The new acquisitions also focus on placing works outside of the Museum’s walls.
Maren Hassinger, Monuments 1, 2020
“One of the things that we are thinking about is how to not only acquire acquisitions that are shown inside the building, but to find works to populate the entire campus, the plaza, the exterior and the sculpture garden, which is being revitalized,” said Hankins. One such work is a sculpture by Maren Hassinger. Monuments 1 (2018), which went on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem along with other works from the series, was acquired for the Sculpture Garden.
Each of the eight works in the series were made of woven branches that came together into simple shapes that reflected the forms found in public parks. The pieces take on an added significance when the BLM protests of 2020 brought a national debate over monuments to a head. The works were made in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Michelle Stuart, Passages Mesa Verde, 1977-79
See the full list of the Hirshhorn’s acquisitions since November of 2019 below:Nicole Eisenman, Luck Lines, 2018Pierre Huyghe One Million Kingdoms, 2001Cyprien Gaillard, Pruitt Igoe Falls, 2009Ebecho Muslimova, FATEBE OUTSIDE INSIDE, 2018Gretchen Bender People in Pain, 1988/2014Tatiana Trouvé Les Indéfinis, 2017Daniel Dezeuze Grand Chasis, 1967For Freedoms, FREEDOM FROM FEAR, 2018; FREEDOM FROM WANT, 2018; FREEDOM OF SPEECH, 2018; FREEDOM OF WORSHIP, 2018Alicja Kwade, WeltenLinie, 2018Zoe Leonard I want a president, 1992/2018Patrick Saytour Pliage, 1969Claude Viallat, 1970/056, 1970Huma Bhabha, We Come in Peace, 2018Kemang Wa Lehulere, Flaming Doors, 2018Sterling Ruby, DOUBLE CANDLE, 2018Zanele Muholi Namhla at Cassilhaus, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2016 from the “Somnyama Ngonyama” or “Hail the Dark Lioness” series (2014-ongoing)Zanele Muholi Misiwe, Bijlmer, Amsterdam 2017 from the “Somnyama Ngonyama” or “Hail the Dark Lioness” series (2014-ongoing)Zanele Muholi ZaBo, Kyoto, Japan, 2017 from the “Somnyama Ngonyama” or “Hail the Dark Lioness” series (2014-ongoing)Zanele Muholi Thandiwe, Roanoke, Virginia, 2018 from the “Somnyama Ngonyama” or “Hail the Dark Lioness” series (2014-ongoing)Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – My Heart Is Dancing into the Universe, 2018Enrico David, Untitled, 1999Ali Banisadr, Language of the Birds, 2018Chuck Close, Jim, 2002Bettina Pousttchi, Framework, 2018Michael Armitage The Accomplice, 2018General Idea, Nazi Milk, 1979Lee Ufan, Relatum—Phenomenon, 2019Lee Ufan, Dialogue, 2019Lee Ufan, Sketch for RelatAliza Nisenbaum, Mis Cuartro Gracias (Brendan, Camilo, Carlos, Jorge), 2018Yoko Ono, My Mommy is Beautiful, 2004/Date of realizationMatias Faldbakken, Fuel Sculpture #3, 2015Kiyan Williams, Meditation on the Making of America, Study, 2019Kiyan Williams, Meditation on the Making of America, Study, 2019Kent Monkman, Honour Dance, 2020Eva LeWitt Untitled (Orange oval), 2019John Akomfrah, Purple, 2017Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Literacy Lab, 2019Mark Leckey, Dream English Kid, 1964-1999 AD, 2015Jonas Wood, Young Architect, 2019Guerrilla Girls, Guerrilla Girls Portfolio Compleat 2012 -2016Michelle Stuart, Passages Mesa Verde, 1977 – 79Mathieu Malouf Man, Selling Oysters, 2020Liz Deschenes, Untitled (LeWitt) #1, 2016Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation, 2016Loie Hollowell, Boob Wheel, 2019Christina Quarles, Held Fast and Let Go Likewise, 2020 Acrylic onNicolas Party, Portrait with Snakes, 2019Deborah Roberts, Fighting all ISM, 2019Jacolby Satterwhite, Birds in Paradise, 2019Rob Pruitt, All the Pandas, 2013Sarah Anne Johnson, The Kitchen, 2016María Berrío, There Is No Sky for Ground Spirits, 2020Cheyenne Julien, Trini Slangs, 2020Michael Joo, Single Breath Transfer (Chinle), 2017Michael Joo, Single Breath Transfer (Niobrara2, Kansas), 2017Paul Chan, 3rd Light, 2006James Luna, Half Indian/Half Mexican, 1991Moriah Evans, Be my Muse, 2016Vaughn Spann, Phoenix (Marked Man), 2020Steffani Jemison, Sensus Plenior, 2017Henry Taylor, If I don’t, someone should as you are so deserving, 2020Lucas Arruda, Untitled (from the DesertoModelo series), 2019Danielle McKinney, Face Mask with Prayer, 2021Zarouhie Abdalian, threnody for the unwilling martyrs, 2021Deana Lawson, Young Grandmother, 2019Alicia Framis, Dreamkeeper, 1997-1998Damián Ortega, Máscaras, 2021Liz Larner, 6, 2010-11Nicolas Party, Sunset, 2021Deana Lawson, Cascade, 2019Yang Fudong, No Snow on the Broken Bridge, 2006Deana Lawson, House of My Deceased Lover, 2019Milton Avery, Twilight Sea, 1957Chie Fueki, Toward and Away, 2005Mark Bradford, Life Size, 2019Aaron Siskind, Kentucky 4, 1954Jay DeFeo, Reflections of Africa No. 3, 1987Sarah Slappey, Golden Braid, 2020Jeffrey Gibson, TO FEEL MYSELF BELOVED ON THE EARTH, 2020Tschabalala, Self Tabled, 2021David, Altmejd Pilgrims, 2017Judith Bernstein, Equality, 2021Nicolas Party, Head, 2018David Alekhuogie, 34.0113° N, 118.3358° W, Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Drive, 2021Laurie Anderson, From the Air, 2009Hana Yilma Godine, Hair Salon in Addis Ababa #2, 2021Maren Hassinger, Monument 1 (Corner #1), 2018/2020Riva Lehrer, The Risk Pictures: Achy Obejas, 2020Rose. B. Simpson, Countdown 1, 2020Amoako Boafo, Cobalt Blue Dress, 2020Rachel Jones, SMIIILLLLEEEE, 2021Arlene Shechet, Ripple and Ruffle, 2020Emily Mae, Smith Unruly Thread, 2019