Category Archives: Museums

The Updated Freer

Yesterday I was lucky to get to go to a social media preview of the updated Freer space. The 18-month renovation concentrated on updating the infrastructure, but there were also many visible improvements, including a new color palette that ties each collection together. While I’ve been in the museum many times and read about Freer, one thing I found out yesterday was that Freer specified that the American collection be frozen in time, with no new acquisitions. So the Asian collection has grown greatly with purchases by the Freer, and the American collection remains a perfect time capsule. And even more than the paintings, I’ve always loved the many elaborate Stanford White frames.

Detail from John Singer Sargent “Breakfast in the Loggia”
Albert Pinkham Ryder’s “The Red Cow.” Freer purchased this work in 1908, but this will be the first time it is displayed at the Freer.

New vitrines have been created for the works. These new ones are taller than the old ones, intended to give a more open feel to the work.
Lights waiting to be installed.

For comparison, here are photos I took on the last weekend the Freer was open before it closed for the 18-month renovation:

At the time, I’d made sure to take a photo of the brass telephone booth in the basement, because I thought it would be eliminated in the renovation. I asked yesterday about it, and the answer is that the space is going to be turned into a recharging station.

Our View From Here

Linn Meyer’s work, Our View From Here, covers the inner wall of the second floor of the Hirshhorn, 400 feet long. She drew it with markers during the month of April 2016. The work was designed to be temporary, and is going to be painted over after August 13, 2017.
Here’s Linn Meyers in the process of creating the work:

And here’s how the work looked yesterday, four days before it is going to be painted over:

And it looked truly odd during the Sculpting Sound festival while viewers were wearing strange headpieces with audio devices:

Ai Weiwei: Trace

Ai Weiwei:Trace at the Hirshhorn is an exhibit about freedom and repression.  It features 176 portraits of political prisoners and human rights advocates from thirty countries.  More than a million Lego bricks were used to construct the portraits.  The portraits are pixelated, similar to the pixelation of low-quality surveillance images.

The exhibit was originally designed for a show at Alcatraz in 2014.  For the Hirshhorn exhibit, Ai Weiwei designed new wallpaper, called The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca.  The wallpaper has drawings of security cameras, handcuffs, and the Twitter logo for the tweets that Ai Weiwei has used to communicate with the world, plus llamas.

The wallpaper contains a complex pattern that looks beautiful and delicate from a distance, but up close shows security cameras, chains, and handcuffs, along with birds and faces encased in odd bodysuits.


The Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn was as amazing as anticipated, including the long lines to get in even with timed tickets.

The lines for each infinity room were 50-100 people long, with groups of 2-3 being let in for 25 seconds each.

At the end is the dot room, with no time limit. It originally was pure white. Each visitor is given a sheet of six colored stickers to apply, so the room will fill up over time. I went to the exhibit at the end of the second day, so there was still plenty of white space left.

Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit ends

The Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit at the Hirshhorn concluded today after three months. There were large crowds watching The Visitor.



The crowds were smaller but intense watching the last moments of Woman in E.


After the final E minor chord, the last Woman in E held her arms up in victory, then bowed to the audience.



It was a great exhibit, and fantastic to get a chance to hear Ragnar Kjartansson describe his work at the beginning of the exhibit three months ago.