Judith Dobrzynski sketches out the grand ambitions and gritty details facing Hirshhorn director Richard Koshalek who wants to build a bubble on the museum to attract attention, donations and satisfy his career goals:
Mr. Koshalek needs $15 million—including a $5 million endowment—to hatch his grand idea, which in its bare-bones description last winter met skepticism. But the project may soon gain credence: Bloomberg LP will provide more than $1 million over two years as a naming gift, though it will not be official until the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, of which the Hirshhorn is part, approve it at their meeting this fall. (The inflatable pavilion’s actual name is also problematic: “Bloomberg Bubble” is probably not going to work, given the connotation of “bubble” in the financial world.)
Mr. Koshalek has also raised $1.5 million from the Pearson Foundation, Nokia, the MacArthur Foundation and a few individuals for the lobby classroom, which will function year-round. He’s hoping the disclosure of these funders will help him attract the rest. […]
The Hirshhorn’s profile has rarely been high in the art world, though, and Mr. Koshalek is impatient. When he was named to his job in February 2009, at age 67, he set out to enhance the Hirshhorn’s low profile in the art world. His previous jobs as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and later as president of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., gave him lofty platforms, allowing him to forge friendships with people like Frank Gehry and Nobel laureate David Baltimore—a perk he clearly enjoys.
Mr. Koshalek’s plans for the bubble, which combine splashy architecture with elements of both the exclusive and influential World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences around the world, achieve both professional and personal goals.
A Bubble Bursting with Ideas (Wall Street Journal)