Pure Form

Work thumb

Views: 15

  • Title: Pure Form: The Interior of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC
  • Author(s): Stephanie Travis
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design
  • Keywords: Architecture, Interior Design, Exhibit Design, Museums
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2325-1662 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1670 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2325-1662/CGP/v12i02/1-14
  • Citation: Travis, Stephanie . 2018. "Pure Form: The Interior of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC ." The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design 12 (2): 1-14. doi:10.18848/2325-1662/CGP/v12i02/1-14.
  • Extent: 14 pages

Abstract

When the Hirshhorn Museum, a building to showcase modern and contemporary art designed by Gordon Bunshaft, opened in 1974, the building’s austerity was a shocking symbol of the modern art world, while also representing Bunshaft’s evolution toward architectural monumentality. Slowly and over time, critics and the building’s users began to appreciate its unique architecture, but less has been spoken, then and now, of its interior and intended function as a space to view art. As such, this article examines if and how the interior of this strong architectural form works in its intended function, to showcase its collection. It asks the questions: Does a strong statement of form, with an original intention to stand out as a sculptural element and contrast with the classical architecture on the National Mall, work as a museum? Is the building an architectural statement and, thus, an expression of its time? Or, did it (and does it) actually function effectively for those who not only visit, but those who curate and design the exhibitions? Specifically, how does the strong circular form facilitate the curatorial work and influence the exhibit design? How do the differences in the inner and outer rings (i.e., through materials, lighting, etc.) have an effect on the art placed in each? And, how do all of these elements influence the user’s experience when viewing art?