Sweet. The Hirshhorn Museum is floating the idea to turn its central plaza into a 4-story event space by filling it with a giant temporary balloon pavilion by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The $5 million pavilion would be put up to house “performing arts, film series and conferences to foster a wide-ranging public debate on cultural values.”
It’s a grand and awesome-looking architectural gesture that would dance around the bureaucratic hurdles any permanent structures on the Mall would face. The key to its success, obviously, is the programming.
The popularity of the Hirshhorn’s Afterhours DJ parties is proof of concept for courtyard events. But that sounds like barely the tip of the programming iceberg. Think of the Hans Ulrich Obrist-era Serpentine, which fills the temporary pavilion with concerts and and 24-hr lecture marathons–bring your sleeping bag! And of course, you can throw one helluva benefit dinner in that thing.
A lot of work to be done, but it’s nice to see the folks at the Hirshhorn are well-versed in the grand tradition of implausible balloon interventions on the National Mall. And with the even grander tradition of talking to the New York Times, not the local Washington Post, when you want to make cultural attention.
UPDATE: aha. Score another one for the bloggers. Here’s then-new Hirshhorn director Richard Koshalek talking to Tyler Green in April [!] about his plans:
We really want to engage the arts in big themes not just in the galleries, but outside the museum, say in a tent-type structure on the National Mall. One of these events would be in the fall and one would be in the spring, in a kind of inflatable building. The structure would house 500-1000 people and we’d have programming that includes everyone, from trustees to directors to curators to artists. [Koshalek showed me drawings of what the tent might look like.] It’s about where the cultural institution needs to go in the future to be relevant.