Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Green at the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn hosts great family events and this one is good for tweens and teens.  In  RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA: (WHO’S AFRAID OF RED, YELLOW, AND GREEN) DC area t(w)eens will able to see the protests they hear so much about translated into art before their eyes.

WHO’S AFRAID OF RED, YELLOW, AND GREEN is a completely new concept for the Hirshhorn in many ways.  This exhibit is not yet complete — and won’t be complete until it closes.  Instead, local artists literally draw on the walls of the gallery with charcoal while visitors watch the exhibit take shape.  The exhibit features overlapping images of protests from DC, Tiravanija’s native Thailand, China, and around the world.  The images are all based on photographs that have appeared in newspapers but the artists are free to choose which photos they use as a basis for their drawings.  Visitors are also invited to add their own works to the walls if they wish.  The idea is that by the time the exhibit closes there will be so many drawings on the walls that the walls will be completely black.


Another aspect that makes this exhibit a first-of-its kind is that it is also a culinary exhibition.  This is because food, specifically red, yellow, and green curry, is incorporated into the exhibit itself and it’s the first time food has been permitted in any of the Hischorn’s galleries.  Why now?  The Hirshhorn wants to make the museum into a community space and hopes that by serving food in the exhibition visitors will stay longer, linger over the art being made in front of them, and engage in conversations with other museum visitors.  The colors of the curry also symbolize the colors of used by various factions in Thai government protests.


In addition to the main room with curry and working artists, there are two other rooms as part of the exhibition.  Both of these rooms show videos made in Thailand.

Although I said at the beginning of the review that this exhibit is not for younger children, I did view it with my four year old.  My preschooler loved the experience of sitting with his bowl of rice and curry and watching artists draw on the wall.  Some were tracing and some were drawing free-hand.  Some were standing on the floor and others were standing on ladders to draw higher.  He and I both were fascinated by watching the process unfold.  Having curry, which was really delicious, while watching the artists work made the experience even better. That said, not all of the drawings are appropriate for younger children as some do include imagery that includes violence, although as the drawings on the walls will be changing constantly that may or may not be the case when you visit.  My four year old is young enough that he did not pick up on the more subtle violence in the drawings, but older children might so use your judgment when visiting with kids under 10.

I have not yet taken my older children to the exhibit but am looking forward to doing so soon.  My 11 year old’s art class is doing a unit on the imagery of activism and this exhibit is right in line with what he is learning in school.  My kids, having been being born and raised in the DC area, are also very aware of the protests that take place here. I think this exhibit is a great way to introduce them to the concept that protests happen all over the world, sometimes in different ways than we see in DC, and the role photography and art can play in protest.

Good to know:

  • The exhibit runs from May 17–July 24.
  • Admission is free.
  • Curry will be served Thursday–Sunday, 11:45 am–1:30 pm or until supplies last, every week during the run of the exhibition.  Each day about 90 guests will be served so we recommend arriving close to 11:45 am for the best chance at having a culinary experience!
  • If you do get curry, be aware that the yellow curry is vegan and mild while the green and red curries contain shrimp and fish products.and have some spice.  A list of ingredients is available at the museum.
  • The Hirshhorn has stroller parking, phone charging, and bathrooms on the lower level.
  • There is limited, two hour metered street parking around the Hirshhorn.  The Hirschhorn is also accessible by metro via the Green, Orange, Yellow, and Blue Lines or a short walk from Metro Center on the Red Line.  You can also take the Circulator Bus or Southwest Shuttle.  Check out all of your options here.
  • Stop for coffee and a snack at the lobby cafe and interact with the museum’s robot, Pepper, while you are there.
  • Check out the Hirschhorn’s tips for visiting with kids.



By:  Jamie Davis Smith

Photo of author

OK Editorial Team

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