Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hirshhorn Museum's Abram Lerner Room -- A Restful Perch in the Eye of the Cyclops

The Abram Lerner Room (see image to the left) of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, has long been a favorite place of mine in the capitol. As a child, visiting my sister, I stumbled upon this room and found refuge from the unrelenting sun of the National Mall, outside.

The Hirshhorn Museum (designed by Gordon Bunshaft, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and completed in 1974) is one of my favorites. I love Modern Art and it has an excellent collection. Like the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (by Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966), the building is a kind of cyclops, a monster with one eye staring out (see image above).

In this case, the cyclops is friendly, providing an unexpectedly reviving gallery in its eye. The Abram Lerner Room, as it is called, has a comfortable curved couch facing a curved window from which one can view the National Mall. It is an unusually brilliant place, combining quiet, beauty, and the activity and grand scale of the mall.

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