We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


In an October 2014 profile of Melissa Chiu, the then-new director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the New York Times made a wobbly claim. Paraphrasing Chiu, Times staffer Graham Bowley wrote that “the shows that work best in the Hirshhorn are those that embrace the distinctive curved spaces of its round, nearly windowless building.”

Windowless, eh? Not so fast. The interior ring of the Hirshhorn is almost entirely made of glass, bathing the circular corridors in natural light, and the Lerner Room, lined in colorful Sol LeWitt wall drawings, offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Mall. At the time of the October article, architecture writer Alexandra Lange wrote the Times to request a correction. The editors wouldn’t budge. Yesterday morning, Lange reupped her complaint.

Not one to suffer the indignity of an incorrect window count in silence, Glenn Dixon, who held my job in the ’90s and now does communications work for the Hirshhorn, laid out a tongue-in-cheek window theory on the museum’s Twitter account. (Read Dixon’s full exposition after the jump.)

“I understand both why Graham Bowley called the Hirshhorn building ‘nearly windowless’ and why there was an outcry from those who take note of the windows we do have,” Dixon writes in an email. “From the outside, [architect] Gordon Bunshaft’s building is really aggressive, even forbidding, almost daring you to come inside. So you do. You step into the circle, and your world turns inside out. There are these unexpected ranks of windows rising above you, screened in by a perfect array of curving concrete. “

Dixon’s counting recalls a social media campaign he ran in 2011-2012 to promote an exhibition of Andy Warhol‘s “Shadows,” an unbroken series of 102 canvases. He and curator Evelyn Hankins tweeted a description of one canvas per day for 102 days. The discrepancy in window numbers (is it 331 or four?) comes from the question of whether a circle of 96 panes can be a single window, as a series of 102 canvases can be a single artwork. “That was sort of a conceptual Easter egg,” Dixon writes.

Bowley did not respond to a request for comment.

Nice work, Hirshhorn. From one goader of the New York Times to another, we salute you.