Best Non-Stop Party Museum

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
7th Street SW and Independence Avenue SW, (202) 633-4674
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

Back in 2015, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden drew flack for director Melissa Chiu’s decision to hold the museum’s razzle-dazzle 40th anniversary party in New York. Chiu promised that the District would soon share in the fun—and last year she delivered.

The party started quietly with a Robert Irwin exhibit that featured a memorable mind-bending, site-specific installation. A lowercase-b blockbuster, this summer show served up high-level scholarship that was also popular and accessible. The museum simultaneously posted exhibits by Linn Meyers and Bettina Pousttchi that spanned whole floors of the 360-degree museum.

Party-o-clock arrived in earnest, though, with Ragnar Kjartansson, a swag fall survey by Iceland’s favorite son. A rotating cast of gold-sequined D.C. rockers strummed a single guitar chord on a revolving stage for “Woman in E,” was a fan favorite. That piece, plus a beloved multi-channel video installation, “The Visitors,” lent the Hirshhorn destination status.

Yet all the cool-cachet of Reykjavík couldn’t have prepared D.C. for Infinity Mirrors, the Yayoi Kusama festival currently crushing it at the Hirshhorn (and on Instagram). The museum is presently adjusting its visitor hours and policies to try to accommodate the throngs of people dying to get in. For its next act, the museum needs to host a quiet Blinky Palermo–type show that only the most devoted art nerds will care about—the equivalent of turning on all the lights and putting on a pot of coffee. Go home, Hirshhorn crowds. You’re art drunk.

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