Now that the weather is turning warm, it is time get outside and explore all the outdoor sculpture that D.C. has to offer. There is no wrong way to experience these pieces. You will find them tucked away in gardens, commanding busy street corners, or as collections sprawling over a full city block.
Take the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden, located between the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art, for example. Even the gates and café are filled with spiraling vegetal patterns in wrought iron. Here you can see modern and contemporary works ranging from a giant spider, to a thoughtful bunny, to a white pyramid.
You can find Lichtenstein’s House I and decide if it is popping out toward you or bending away from you or you can rest under the imaginary shade of Roxy Paine’s silver tree.
Tucked in front of the Hirshhorn is their Sculpture Garden. There are numerous works in the sunken courtyard, as well as sculptures surrounding the exterior of the museum. Hulking over the edge of the garden is Di Suervo’s red I-beam piece which deals with color, balance, and strength.
A perfect way to explore the construction of this work, and the forms of many others, is to bend and balance a hand full of pipe-cleaners while sitting on the Mall. You can also take advantage of the open space by stretching your bodies out to twist and move as the sculptures do, or making noises and movement inspired by the art.
Off the Mall, in Chinatown, surrounding the Smithsonian American Art Museum, are plenty of public sculptures. Jiménez’s Vaquero is a larger than life cowboy on a bucking blue horse. Gwenfritz by Calder is a large abstract piece with intersecting, black, pointed forms. The horse is a great place to practice storytelling and invent who this man is and where he is going. The Calder could be recreated and re-imagined simply with folding paper.
Once you start looking for outdoor sculpture you will begin seeing it everywhere. Whether you are attempting to recreate the piece with your body, your own materials, or a story of your own ideas, you will be seeing and interacting with D.C.’s environment in a new way. Get out and enjoy yourself.
by Sara CardelloMuseum and Community Resource Specialist
The Smithsonian Early Enrichment houses a lab school for the Smithsonian serving children aged 3 months to 6 years. SEEC also offers weekend workshops for families with young children. Come learn, explore and play with us! https://seecstories.wordpress.com/family-workshops/