Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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Washington DC. Collection of modern painting and sculpture founded by Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899–1981), a Latvian immigrant to the USA, and presented to his adopted country in 1966. It is administered by the Smithsonian Institution. Hirshhorn left Latvia at the age of six and fulfilled the rags-to-riches American dream, his enormous fortune being made mainly from uranium mining. He began collecting in the early 1930s, relying entirely on his own instincts—if he liked an artist's work he tried to buy as much of it as possible. The collection extends from about 1880 to contemporary art and is particularly strong in sculpture, in American painting, and in European painting since the Second World War. Highlights include about 40 de Koonings and about 50 Henry Moores. The museum building was designed by one of the USA's leading architects, Gordon Bunshaft (of the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), and was opened to the public in 1974. It consists of a huge concrete drum raised above a plaza on four massive piers. The museum is linked by an underground passage to the sculpture garden on the opposite side of Jefferson Drive. Hirshhorn gave the trustees of the museum the freedom to add or dispose of works as they saw fit, and the collection continues to expand.

Subjects: Art.

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