Statement on Hirshhorn Bubble and Director’s Resignation

May 23, 2013
News Release
Smithsonian sunburst

Richard Koshalek, director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, announced his resignation today; no departure date has been set. Koshalek became director of the Hirshhorn in April 2009. The announcement followed the museum’s board of trustees meeting.

At its meeting, the Hirshhorn board was unable to reach consensus on the fate of the Seasonal Inflatable Structure, known as the Bubble. Some members of the board would like to proceed with the fundraising and others want to discontinue and focus on other museum priorities. Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough will consult with Richard Kurin, the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, and others, and will make an announcement in June.

The proposed structure on the plaza of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden would be a unique seasonal venue in Washington with programming devoted to arts and culture. The Bubble design was conceived by New York-based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Bubble would be a blue, translucent structure that bulges out of the top and bottom of the round building, creating an enclosed round space on the plaza.

Fabrication of the Inflatable and installation for two years are estimated at $12.5 million, with $7.8 million raised or committed to date. In addition, about $1 million would be needed in subsequent years for installation, de-installation and storage (not including staffing and programming). The Smithsonian’s contribution of $4 million over a 10-year period would supplement operational and programming costs.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, has nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works in its collection. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs that explore modern and contemporary art.

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Linda St.Thomas

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