Places to Go - Doug Aitken's Song Number 1 at the Hirshhorn (Washington DC)


On Wednesday night after dinner, we packed up the swagger wagon and headed into the city with Grandma to check out Doug Aitken's Song Number 1 at the Hirshhorn (in which Aitken converted the outside of the museum into a 360 degree video installation). We arrived around 7:45, in time to check out the sculpture garden (I love that place) and walk around for a few minutes before the exhibit began at "dusk."

Around 8:15 we settled down, with first row viewing across the street from the museum (in front of the sculpture garden). The music began (several different - somewhat eerie -versions of "I Only Have Eyes for You"), but where was the "movie?" Apparently I hadn't thought this through. Even though the exhibit technically begins at dusk, you can't actually see it until dark. So we waited. Along with about 30 other people, most of whom seemed glued to their iphones. I took out my iphone ready for the kids to start fighting over it, already calculating time limits in my head, when all of a sudden an "ahh-ha" moment occurred to me - what if we actually used this time to talk with each other? Crazy, right? So I decided to take us back a few centuries.

We played "I spy with my little eyes", we told stories, we complained, we danced. We waited. And slowly the movie started to appear before us - like watching a polaroid develop. At first we could only make out a few images - is that an eye? a chin? lights? When the sky darkened everything became bright and colorful and somewhat mesmerizing as an ordinary concrete building converted into a gigantic movie screen.

I liked some of the videos more than others (some were a little too music-videoesque for me) but certain scenes - like cars driving on the highway at night, colors flashing, and Tilda Swinson singing - stunned us all. By around 9:10 pm (with a fully dark sky) the girls started asking for bed (though T wanted to "watch movie all night"), so we meandered back to our car - dancing with grandma the whole way. Along Independence Avenue several cars had pulled over, as we all collectively stopped to watch the show.

The exhibit ends on Sunday. So if you have a chance, go this weekend. Even a drive by. It's worth it. Really. (Though the song will be stuck in your head for days). None of my pictures turned out very well, so click here for more images.

Sometimes it amazes me how much wonderful free stuff exists in this city. How lucky we are. Seriously.


*Why can't i find a yarn bombed park to play in? This looks SO FUN!!

*Todd Oldham's new target line of kids made modern art supplies looks awesome.

*Make Way for Ducklings in Seattle. We love that book, so to see it in real life would be amazing.


Apparently you're not supposed to sit on the sculptures. Or so we learned.


Waiting can be fun. Really. (F's still rocking her magazine bead necklace, so cool).


Pictures slowly emerge. Slowly.


And finally, dark brings a "movie." So much fun!!


  1. so i had been planning all week to go tomorrow night...but now i am not sure my crew can do it... it must be at least 8:30 until it gets dark enough? I was planning on doing the sculpture garden first too?!?! SO glad you posted this-now I am going to rethink it and hope to still make it work. Mine are 1 and 3 and the 1 yr old often is asleep by 7! I'll report on my blog what happens. Thanks so much for this it is really helpful!

  2. We went late last night (sans kiddos - gasp!) and I loved it. So glad they extended it.

  3. This is amazing how you have managed to totally expose the topic which you have selected for this precise blog entry of yours. BTW did you turn to any alike posts as a source of information to complete the entire picture which you have posted in this blog entry?



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