Evelyn C. Hankins Named Head Curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

By Editorial Team on April 19, 2022
Photo: Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

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14-Year Hirshhorn Veteran Curated Acclaimed Exhibitions by Artists Including Mark Bradford, Charline von Heyl, Jennie C. Jones and Robert Irwin

Evelyn C. Hankins, curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden since 2008, has been named the Head Curator. In her position as the first female Head Curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Hankins leads the department responsible for planning exhibitions and commissioning artworks which draw from and respond to the museum’s internationally distinguished collection of modern and contemporary art. With an intimate knowledge of the museum’s history and nuanced understanding of its role as the national museum of modern art, Hankins will continue to advance the Hirshhorn’s international reputation and shape the permanent collection.

“I am thrilled to support Evelyn as she assumes the role of Head Curator,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “Throughout her Hirshhorn tenure, Evelyn has demonstrated an exceptional vision, scholarship, and creativity to establish herself as a transformative leader on the national stage. Evelyn will continue to shepherd our museum’s collection and foster collaborations as we near our 50th anniversary, the revitalization of our Sculpture Garden and continue to respond to and present the art, artists and ideas of the moment.”

With a curatorial expertise in American and European modernism, Hankins has organized more than 15 exhibitions at the Hirshhorn during her 14-year tenure. Recent highlights include “Marcel Duchamp: The Barbara and Aaron Levine Collection” (2019), a transformational promised gift to the Museum; “Pat Steir: Color Wheel” (2019), a site-specific project; “Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes” (2018–2019), a major monographic survey; and “Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge” (2017–2021), the internationally renowned artist’s largest work to date. Hankins’ next exhibition, “Sam Gilliam: Full Circle” opens May 25.

Hankins has captained lauded exhibitions, notably “Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change” (2016), a two-part project comprising a historical show focusing on Irwin’s groundbreaking artworks from the 1960s and a major new scrim installation in response to the museum’s distinctive architecture was cited by The New York Times as “a magical show” and in The Washington Post as “art so good it needs spoiler alerts.”  She has also organized an array of projects, including “Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” (2017); “Susan Philipsz: Part File Score” (2016); “At the Hub of Things: New Views of the Collection” (2014) (co-curated); “Jennie C. Jones: Higher Resonance” (2013); “Over, Under Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913-Present” (2013); “ColorForms” (2010); “Walead Beshty: Legibility on Color Backgrounds” (2009); and “The Panza Collection” (2008).

In addition to her curatorial team management and exhibition responsibilities, Hankins has provided curatorial oversight for the Hirshhorn’s paintings and works on paper collections. She oversaw the exhibition of artworks by Marcel Duchamp, a promised gift by Barbara and Aaron Levine, which included an online display and 220-page accompanying catalogue. She has brought artworks in an array of media into the collection, including works by Deborah Roberts, Fred Sandback, Charles Gaines, Jacqueline Humphries, Mary Weatherford and Hilla and Bernd Becher, among others. Hankins contributed to the Hirshhorn’s forthcoming collection catalogue. She has served on several Smithsonian pan-institutional committees, including the Collections Advisory Committee, the Congress of Scholars, the American Women’s History Initiative and the Network Review Committee.

Previously, Hankins was the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont in Burlington and an Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University. Hankins succeeds Stéphane Aquin.

About the Hirshhorn
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. The outdoor Sculpture Garden is open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

(Source: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Press Release)