You can’t really go wrong with an outing to the National Mall. There are always museums to visit, exhibits and memorials to check out, and just so much to see as you wander. Here are a couple of new exhibitions running at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this summer to keep in mind next time you’re on the Mall. It’s easy to stop by to see them — no tickets required, and admission to both are free!
Opening today, “Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn” is a massive installation spanning 700 feet all the way around the museum’s second floor, featuring portraits of 176 indivisuals from around the world who the artist believes to have been detained, exiled, or have sought political asylum as a result of their actions, beliefs, or affiliations.
Like many of his works, it makes a political statement and is pretty heavy for kids. But also like many of his works, there’s an aesthetic element that will appeal to all ages: It’s made entirely of LEGOS! While you might not make a special trip to see it with children, I recommend stopping by if you’re at the museum or nearby. It could be a conversation starter if you want to discuss those topics with your kids. It’s also a chance for them to see how they can create art with their everyday toys. Apparently, Ai Weiwei chose LEGOS as his medium because his son was playing with them a lot. The exhibit runs through January 1, 2018.
In the Sculpture Garden, be sure to stop by Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree for Washington,” where visitors are encouraged to write their wishes on tags and tie them to a Japanese dogwood tree. It’s quite a sight to see them all lining the branches — and interesting, moving, even amusing to read some of them. Throughout the summer, Hirshhorn staff collect the wishes and send them to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. You can add your tags with written wishes through Labor Day, and the rest of the year you can whisper them to the tree.