Hirshhorn Museum leaders tell The Washington Post that their decision to hold the Smithsonian contemporary-art center's 40th-anniversary gala in New York is part of an effort to broaden the museum's audience and donor base and is not a snub of its hometown. The Nov. 9 event at the World Trade Center, announced earlier this month, generated a storm of online criticism and drew fire from the Post's art critic.
"As a Smithsonian museum, we need to be representative not just of D.C., but nationally and internationally," said Elizabeth Duggal, the Hirshhorn's deputy director. She said the museum has already raised more than $700,000 from the planned New York event, nearly half its goal and more than double what it collected at its 25th-anniversary gala. The Hirshhorn has lagged behind Smithsonian peers in fundraising and struggled in recent years with leadership changes and debates about its mission.