According to multiple sources, Hirshhorn director Richard Koshalek told attendees of the museum’s recent annual August ‘Martini Party’ that he has secured a seven-figure gift from a New York donor for the museum’s ‘Bulbous Membrane’ project. [Update, Sept. 21: The Hirshhorn confirms that it has received a seven-figure gift from New York. Please see here for details and an explanation.]
A Hirshhorn spokesperson confirmed the announcement in an email to MAN today, adding that it is from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous and that “there is nothing further on that for the moment.”
The inflatable pavilion/event space has received backing from the Smithsonian, but Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough told MAN that the museum should not expect financial support from the Castle. The temporary pavilion is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (and, infamously, hews rather closely to a Rem Koolhaas-Cecil Balmondo design).
The museum’s plans for the non-structure were first revealed on MAN in April, 2009. I wrote in opposition to the project here. Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik is also concerned about the museum’s direction. The museum’s fundraising for the ‘Membrane’ made news earlier this summer when MAN revealed that the Hirshhorn director’s office was taking odd measures to make the museum — which is already one of America’s most-visited modern and contemporary art museums — appear more crowded. In July a museum spokesperson told MAN that the museum would not be making any announcements regarding ‘Membrane’ fundraising until the fall.