“You can sometimes find a visionary who can’t manage a museum. And you can find someone who can run a museum who isn’t a visionary. But with Richard you get both.” This quote from the Hirshhorn Museum’s chief curator perfectly depicts the museum’s director, Richard Koshalek. Koshalek came to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2009 from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and he arrived with big plans. Richard Koshalek has a reputation as an agent of change, a man attracted to controversial exhibitions and unafraid to take risks.
Koshalek arrived at the well-established, successful Hirshhorn Museum with a lot of ideas. When Richard became director, he spoke of outreach and education for the museum instead of edgy exhibitions or radical change. He has sought to reach out to a wider community beyond an elite, specialized audience.
This year, Koshalek has announced a series of 10 big projects at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden that are intended to “make a flash” and draw big reactions. So far, these projects have included “Song 1”, “Belief+Doubt”, and the “Bloomberg Balloon.” These big installations have created a lot of press for the Hirshhorn Museum – positive and negative – and Koshalek may be accomplishing his goal of bringing the prestigious museum to a far wider crowd.