Hirshhorn Celebrates 10 Years of Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree for Washington” With Summer of Artist’s Work

Washington Debut of “My Mommy Is Beautiful” Invites Visitors To Share Thoughts About Their Mothers; Live Performance of Ono’s Music Planned for September
April 24, 2017
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person wearing hat tying notes to tree branches

This summer, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Yoko Ono’s celebratory installation “Wish Tree for Washington, D.C.,” an interactive artwork in which museum visitors tie their handwritten wishes to the tree’s branches, with a complementary series of Ono’s iconic installations and performances. The “Wish Tree” will open to the public Saturday, June 17, alongside the Washington debut of “My Mommy Is Beautiful,” a participatory large-scale artwork that invites visitors to leave memories, photographs and thoughts about their mothers, as well as an installation of the germinal video “Sky TV for Washington, D.C.” The focus will culminate in September with a daylong concert featuring Ono’s music.

Donated by the artist in 2007, the Hirshhorn’s “Wish Tree for Washington, D.C.” is located in the museum’s sculpture garden and is part of an ongoing global art installation that has collected more than 1 million wishes from around the world. While museum visitors are welcome to whisper their wishes to the tree year round, the summer is the only time that the tree “blooms” with paper wishes, generating a new archive of hopes and ambitions each year. For the past decade, the Hirshhorn has collected more than 80,000 wishes to send to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Iceland.

Spanning the length of the museum’s lobby, Ono’s emotionally charged “My Mommy Is Beautiful” will invite visitors to bring a photograph or write a thought or memory about their mothers and attach it to canvases on a 40-foot wall. The work evolves over time, paying monumental tribute to mothers around the world.

“Each summer, Ono’s message of peace and unity permeates the museum, providing a rare moment of meditation and reflection about the things that matter most,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “We are delighted to celebrate 10 years of this unique work with the added presentation of her other deeply meaningful installations and performances. Ono has built her career around the intersections of art and activism, and, collectively, these works serve as a reminder to all of us about the increasing need for global harmony.”

Reinstalled on the museum’s third floor, Ono’s 1966 “Sky TV for Washington, D.C.” is a 24-hour live feed of the outside sky, rain or shine. Conceived during a time when Ono lived in a windowless space and dreamed of having a window to look out, “Sky TV” was one of the first works of art to harness the instant feedback capability of video, urging viewers to become more aware of the world around them despite technology. 

The anniversary culminates in a daylong concert in September, featuring Ono alongside Washington-based and national musicians, who will present their variations of Ono’s works and their own pieces inspired by her key role in performance history. A precursor to contemporary Noise music, Ono’s concerts and recordings from 1960 onwards set the scene for experimental music and vocal techniques.

Ono joins the Hirshhorn’s 2017–18 schedule of diverse contemporary artists whose work reflects global conversations that shape history, politics and culture, including Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, German artist Markus Lüpertz, and American artists Theaster Gates and Mark Bradford.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.


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