Project and Design Manager
The new bookstore at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was designed to incorporate part of a site-specific installation by Barbara Kruger that plasters the escalators, floors, walls and ceilings in the lower lobby with words that portray themes from absolutism to consumerism.
The integration of the store and the exhibition forces shoppers to consider the act of purchasing while browsing. The words, “You want it, you buy it, you forget it” loom over museum-goers as they shop, a detail that Exhibition curator Melissa Ho says makes the experience more valuable. “When those words are actually executed,” she says, “you understand them all the more.”
The space is one of the Hirshhorn’s most highly trafficked locations, but it has long remained a subdued passageway that simply connected visitors to more contemplative, artistic galleries. Exhibition curator Melissa Ho says that the decision was “based on a larger effort by the museum to activate new parts of our campus to show art. The lobby is a place of total movement. It is not a sheltered place but one with lots of bodies, all going places. This space was previously ignored, but now people are riveted. They spend a long time reading down there.”