Hirshhorn to unveil two acquisitions as it reopens its sculpture garden

Huma Bhabha, We Come in Peace (2018), installed in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC last month William Andrews

The Hirshhorn Museum is unveiling two new acquisitions, monumental sculptures by the artists Huma Bhabha and Sterling Ruby, as its garden reopens to the public on Monday. The museum itself and its outdoor plaza remain closed for now.

Welcoming visitors at the 1.5-acre sculpture gardens National Mall entrance will be Bhabhas multicoloured We Come in Peace (2018), which is more than 12 feet tall. The Hirshhorn says that the Pakistani-American sculptors work is intended to pose questions about the nations complex relationship with refugees and immigrants.

Rubys melancholic bronze DOUBLE CANDLE, rising over 24 feet and also dating from 2018, will be centrally stationed by the gardens reflecting pool and evokes national memory and unity. “The candles are simultaneously identifiable and abstract, holding a multitude of meanings and emotions,” Ruby says in a statement. “They stand for loss as well as love, they celebrate light and the eternal, while motioning towards an expiration.”

Sterling Ruby, DOUBLE CANDLE (2018), installed in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden last month William Andrews

The sculptures are the first by the two artists to enter the Hirshhorns collection and join more than 60 Modern and contemporary works on view outdoors in the sunken space.

The garden is reopening amid controversy over a plan to renovate it in concert with the artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto. While Sugimotos design has drawn support from some architects and museum directors, critics say that it would markedly change the appearance of an honoured environment created over time by the architect Gordon Bunshaft and the landscape designer Lester Collins.

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