Lonely Planet Writer

Orchids get the modern art treatment at Washington DC’s Hirshhorn Museum

Washington DC’s Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden are staging their annual orchid exhibit in a brand new space this year. Instead of the Botanic Garden’s conservatory or the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, Orchids: A Moment is on display at The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the city’s contemporary art hub best known for hosting shows like the upcoming Infinity Mirrors by avant-garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Orchid Image by Getty

The wintertime exhibition normally features the blooms in a more natural setting, but with a sleek, specially-built wall showcasing over 100 orchids in individual niches, the Hirshhorn offers a fresh perspective for taking in the vibrant floral display. ‘When visitors enter the Hirshhorn, they’re immediately struck by the orchids as works of art, both individually and as a beautifully coordinated group,’ Allison Peck, Interim Director of Communications and Marketing, tells Lonely Planet. ‘The display of brilliant color against the museum’s modernist architecture is mesmerizing. It’s a captivating and unexpected exhibition for art lovers, design enthusiasts, and flower fans alike.’

A photo posted by David M (@ironwolf2006) on Jan 28, 2017 at 2:41pm PST

Both the wall and vessels holding the flowers are white, allowing the colorful blooms to take center stage, and in keeping with this minimalist aesthetic, the plants aren’t labeled, Instead, information on each orchid is displayed on a digital wall map, while several video screens continuously run a time lapse video of blooming orchids, juxtaposing nature and technology.

A photo posted by Amy B (@live__art) on Jan 13, 2017 at 7:31pm PST

‘Orchids, exotic and alluring, seem to stop us in our tracks, overwhelming our senses with color and scent,’ Melanie Pyle, a horticulturist at Smithsonian Gardens, said in a statement. ‘See the subtle shifts in color and experience your own moment knowing there will never be another one exactly like it.’

A photo posted by Rose Franzen (@rosefranzen) on Jan 28, 2017 at 12:52pm PST

Flowers are replaced regularly, so the display changes over the course of the exhibition. Orchids: A Moment opened on 14 January and runs until May 14, 2017.